My back hurts.

"Hello, Celestia." I said tiredly as I walked in the house.

Celestia was sitting on the couch, watching Red play Mario Kart. As soon as she saw me, she jumped up.

"Oh my heavens, Phil!" she cried out, rushing to examine me, "What happened to you?! How did this happen?"

Red's eyes were wide as she stared at me.

"I just... got in a fight, you know. They were really strong..."

She walked around to my back. "But... to do this much damage?" she asked, "Take your shirt off, we need to treat this."

"Alright, then. Yeah, that's a good idea. I didn't even think about that."

"Red, get up. Phil, lay on your stomach on the couch."

Red made way for me to lay down as I slowly removed my shirt. There really was a hole in my hoodie. How sad...

I laid my stomach on the couch. If I didn't follow Celestia's instructions, she'd probably force me to. She was so nice.

Treat this? I can't help but feel this is gonna hurt.

My body was drenched with sweat. The fight and the ride home sitting in my awful seat... I was really uncomfortable right now. Uncomfortable and in quite a bit of pain, still. The burn on my back wasn't a small injury. The hole in my hoodie was about a foot across. I think. I'm not good at judging distances.

"Are you alright, Phil?" Red asked me. She was staring at my back.

"Yeah, I'm fine." I said, "It hurts, but it's not life threatening."

"That must hurt a lot."

"Well, it did when I got it."

"How long ago did this happen?" asked Celestia, walking back into the room, a collection of first aid tools in her arms and trailing behind her, floating in midair.

"About... 8:15... 8:00, maybe. I don't know."

She set everything onto the coffee table and got on her knees.

"Now Phil, wounds from magic are often different than similar, non-magical wounds. It looks like they were using rather dangerous magic."

I looked up at her, "Is that bad?"

"It's not bad, but it isn't good either. Why in the world would she enlist your help?"

She gently placed a hand onto a non-injured spot on my back.

"How far away were you?"

"I'd say about twenty miles." I replied.

"She had you follow them that far?" She took her hand from my back and started preparing one of the cleaning things she brought out. I didn't see what she was doing.

"It's not too far."

"Shouldn't you be more concerned with this?"

"The drive home was pretty calming. You know me, I don't get concerned."

"So, um... How did you get that?" asked Red.

"Yes, tell me what happened." said Celestia.

"I... I actually recorded the whole thing on my phone." I said, reaching into my pocket to retrieve it.

I went to the video on my phone. The quality wasn't the best, and the audio was pretty bad, but it showed us what happened.

In the beginning of the video, I heard my own voice. I was talking to Luna. I forgot about that part...

"You're speaking to my sister?" asked Celestia.

"Yeah..."

"What did you want to tell me?" she asked, still watching intently.

"That this isn't the first time I've met Queen Chrysalis."

"You've kept it a secret from me?"

"I didn't want you to get mad."

"I... understand."

She may have understood, but she was far from happy about it.

The video continued. Suddenly, I appeared in the video. I watched as I took the spell for Chrysalis.

Celestia gasped. "You... protected her?"

"Why would you protect someone like her?" asked Red.

I heard in my head, "Blame me."

"Luna said that it was my duty to return them to Equestria just like Red. If... If Chrysalis went down, they'd be gone forever."

"You took such a powerful attack just to protect her..." Celestia let out in disbelief, "You..." She stopped.

"I'm impressed." said Red.

"You're impressed?" asked Celestia, looking to her.

She nodded. "He ran in there without even thinking about it. And he took it like a champ, too."

"But for her..."

"Hey, she's my enemy, too. I stole stuff from her and now she hates me."

"You did what?"

Red shrugged. "Never said I was innocent."

We continued watching. The video had recorded all the way to the end where Chrysalis laid on the ground after the fight. It recorded me walking back to the window I had put the phone and picking it up to turn it off.

Celestia turned back to me. "Why would you protect her?" she asked me once again, speaking directly to me.

She wasn't going to believe that Chrysalis was controlling me. I wasn't really planning on using it as an excuse. "What would we do about those changelings if they got away?" I asked.

Celestia looked down, then back at me. "Why..."

I looked away and sighed. "I didn't want her to get hurt."

Celestia was taken aback. Red also seemed surprised.

"You know who she is, Phil... You know what she's done..." Celestia said to me.

"I know... Celestia, she... The first time we met, she told me that she may have information that would allow you ponies to come and go as you pleased."

Celestia tilted her head slightly. "Why would she tell you that?"

"She wanted what Red stole from her. So... I told her I'd help her."

"Wait, you were working for her? No wonder you got all buddy-buddy with me suddenly." Red said, shocked.

"I also told her I wasn't confident that I could do it."

Red paused, then shrugged. "Fair enough."

"She said that if I retrieved her... her possession, then she would... would let me know. I never got a promise that she actually knew, and I never even had a reason to trust her, but if I could find out..." 'We could see each other more often...' I couldn't continue my sentence. She was still so angry.

"Why didn't you tell me about her, then?" asked Celestia.

"You..." I sighed again. "You would've gotten angry for no reason. I thought you might try chasing her down like you did Red and I didn't want that. I just wanted you to stay happy at the house..."

"I would've gotten angry." she softly let out.

"And her request was small. It didn't affect you. And it would've helped us so much."

Celestia's face had lost all fight. She seemed almost saddened.

"When she came to me the next time, she asked me to help her with something. She gave me a gift, this time. An incentive."

"That gold coin." said Red.

I looked to her.

"I knew you had it, I just didn't know where it was from."

"As it turned out, her request was for me to take her to her escaped subjects so she could capture them. She was tired. She's spent all this time searching for them. She couldn't do it alone. I was the only one that could help her."

"Stop..." Celestia let out.

"What?"

"Just..." She sniffed. "Just stop...

I looked to her. She was on the brink of tears.

"C-Celestia?" I got up on the couch and looked at her again.

She looked to my eyes. She was tearing up. "I just... I just wish that... one time... you'd do something wrong... so that I could be angry at you for a good reason..." She blinked. Tears rolled down her cheeks.

I didn't know what to say.

"You always do this to me!" she yelled, "You always twist things around so that I'm the bad guy when I'm angry at you! I hate it! I hate it, I hate it, I hate it! It makes me feel guilty... It makes me feel like garbage when I get mad at you..."

"You... You want to be angry at me?"

"I don't know what I... what I want!" She was crying at this point.

"Well... If you... really do want to be angry at me... then... listen up..."

She sniffed a few times, but managed to calm herself down. She was looking up at me, tears streaming down her face, waiting for me to continue.

I sighed. "When you called and asked me where I was... and I said Chrysalis had disappeared... She was sleeping in the passenger seat of my car."

"Wh-What?"

"Her guards were in the back, tied up. I took the four of them to the house that Chrysalis has been staying at these past... I don't know how long."

"You... You lied to me?" she asked me, stunned.

I nodded. "Yeah... I lied..."

She clenched a fist. I saw it come towards me. I knew it would happen. I didn't raise a hand to prevent it or pull back to move out of the way... Celestia had punched me in the face. And it hurt...

I turned my head back to her. I felt liquid drip out of my nose. My eyes were watering.

"Hey, that was a bit much, don't you think?" said Red, defending me.

Celestia took in a shaky breath and released it slowly. She did it again. The two of us stared at each other.

Celestia's cheeks slowly became covered in tears. She was crying even harder than before while trying to stay quiet. She was hiccupping.

"I'm sorry!" she loudly let out, jumping up and throwing her arms around me, "I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I'm s-sorry!"

I was very confused. And my face hurt.

"I didn't mean it!" she blubbered, digging her face into my shoulder, "I didn't mean it! I'm sorry! Please don't hate me... I'm sorry... I d-didn't mean it... Please don't h-hate me... P-Please don't hate m-meeeee..."

She was crying into my shoulder, repeating herself over and over again. She was wailing.

I tilted my head back. My nose was bleeding...

Celestia had broken down and was crying into my shoulder. I placed a hand on her back. She was bawling her eyes out.

I made her cry again. Damn it...

I wrapped both my arms around her. "Come on, Celestia... I know, I know..."

"I'm so sorry..."

"Celestia, it's alright."

She shook her head against my chest. "It's not alright... It's not..."

I didn't know if I should let her tire herself out or try to stop her crying myself. She was getting my chest wet.

I tasted blood. Stupid bloody nose. Red noticed my displeasure with it and gave me a paper towel from the table. I wiped away what had dripped down to my mouth.

I dropped the paper towel to the side and just held onto her. She kept crying, repeatedly telling me that she was sorry.

Red eventually disappeared downstairs. I'm sure it was awkward for her.

Celestia's anguished cries slowly gave way to quiet sobbing. She was calming down.

"I'm sorry..." she quietly let out.

I rubbed her back. She pulled away from me. Her face was a mess. She sniffed. Her nose was dripping. She was still crying. I leaned around her and picked up another paper towel. I held it up to her nose. "Blow."

She blew her nose into the paper towel. I wiped the bottom of her nose and set it aside. It didn't help too much.

"I... I'm sorry that I... struck you..."

"I know, Celestia... I know..."

"You're not supposed to be ok with this... I did something so wrong..."

"It's ok, Celestia..."

"It's not ok... It will never be ok... I'm not allowed to strike you, no matter how angry I get... I didn't know how to deal with that... Lashing out was not the answer."

I leaned towards her and held her again.

"If you want to be angry at me, that's fine. You're allowed to be angry, Celestia. I did something stupid, I know."

"But I struck you... I struck you out of anger... And... I felt it was the right thing to do. I don't... I don't strike my lovers... I don't strike anybody... But I struck you. It... It doesn't matter whether you deserved it or not... I lowered myself so far for a petty jealousy."

"You're... Celestia you are my fiancée! Start acting like it."

"Wh-What?"

"If you want to get angry, then get angry. I'm an idiot who was spending time with another woman behind your back. I deserve more than just a little punch."

"I... I don't understand."

"If you're unhappy Celestia, then tell me. It's your right as my fiancée to complain!"

"It's not my right to strike you!" she replied, raising her voice.

"I know... I know... I'm not saying it is... And I know that you don't believe I deserved it... And maybe I didn't... But Celestia... If you're not allowed to complain, then what kind of relationship do we have? We're supposed to be honest with each other, and I haven't been honest. I kept Queen Chrysalis a secret from you. Just because I believed that she meant no harm, I made sure you didn't find out about her. And that was a stupid mistake... Just like your stupid mistake. That's all it was. A mistake. I just realized that it sounds like I'm trying to justify my actions. Please do not think of it as that, I'm only trying to justify your actions."

She gave me a small chuckle.

"Emotions were running high, I knew that before I said anything."

"Stop trying to take the blame, yourself. You know it was all me."

"Oh, what am I gonna do, let you have all of the guilt? That's a rude thing to do."

"Who cares if it's rude? I struck you, Phil..."

"It's fine. It was a little love-tap."

"I didn't hold back."

"A big love-tap."

"D-Do... Do you not care?"

"I kinda expected it."

"What?"

"I guess I expected you to stick with yelling, but I suppose this just makes things faster."

"I don't want you making light of this."

"Well, what am I supposed to do, hit you back? That'd just be mean. I'm not gonna shout at you, either. You're gonna have to face the facts, Celestia... You're too cute to stay mad at."

She sighed, a defeated look on her face. She leaned forward and held me. Arguing about this would be pointless.

"I'm sorry." she said quietly.

"I know, Celestia... I know."

"I really didn't mean to hurt you."

"I know..."

She stopped. "Your back. I forgot all about your injuries. I'm such a terrible girlfriend..." She pulled back.

"No you're not. Shut up."

"Phil, I..."

"Shush, chatty monkey." I said to her, "Stop being such a downer. Let me see a smile. Come on, Celestia... Give me a smile."

She wasn't smiling.

"What, are you gonna be a Mrs. Grumpyface all night?"

"I'm not grumpy, I'm..." She stopped.

"Celestia..." I kindly let out.

She looked to me, a small smile on her face.

"See, that wasn't so bad, was it?"

She sighed. "You did it again?"

"Hmm?"

"You settled our argument by telling me that you love me."

"But... I do love you."

"I... I love you, too..."

"It's hard not to smile when you say that, huh..."

She smiled at me. "Yeah..."

"Feel better?"

"A little..."

"Come here..."

I wrapped my arms around her. She did the same with me.

She sighed. "We really need to treat this."

I chuckled. "Yeah..."

She pulled back, then started to get up. I pulled her back towards me, pushing my lips against hers.

She was smiling as she pulled away. "Here, let me get up." She got off of me and wiped her eyes. "Lay on your stomach for me." she said.

I did as instructed.

"Alright... Now, this won't hurt a bit... Until I start, after which, it will hurt immensely."

I let out a small laugh.

"Ready?"

"Ready."

She grabbed a water bottle from the table and poured it into a rag.

"I have to clean it, first." she said, "There are scorch marks on your skin from the spell."

"Yep, yep..."

She gently placed the rag onto my back and started to wipe it off. Hurts... I groaned.

She quickly took the rag away. "Are you alright?"

"I'm fine, I'm fine..." I let out.

"There aren't any spells I can use to reduce the pain. Maybe you should take a pain reducing medicine will help."

"You'll probably be done by the time they start working. Seems like a waste of good medicine to me."

"Are you sure?"

"I save the ibuprofen for headaches."

"What about the oxycodone? It's rather powerful in Equestria. Is it the same here?"

"Yeah, it's pretty good. Makes me tired when I take it though. Besides, that bottle's like three years old."

"My ponies can only take that with a doctor's prescription. Did you have any pains that needed it?"

"I got kidney stones a while back."

"Ouch..."

"Yeah, no kidding. What are you doing looking through my medicine cabinet?"

"I was bored..."

"Fair enough."

She started cleaning me again. It still hurt. This seemed to be the easy part.

She set the rag aside after a small while and picked up an ointment that I forgot I had in my medicine cupboard. She began applying a small amount to my back, mainly in the center of the injury. It was still painful.

When she was done, she said, "Alright, sit up."

I did as she said.

"You've befriended her... haven't you..." she sullenly asked me, picking up the bandage wrap from the table, "You wanted to, at least. I know you. I know that you wouldn't keep her a secret from me if you didn't care about her."

"Geez, Celestia..."

"Lift your arms."

I did as she said.

She began covering my injury, wrapping it around my chest and back. "That look on your face... You have. Or, you believe that you have. I'm not going to tell you that it's a bad idea. You know who she is, you know how I feel about her. I don't think I would've been able to make friends with her like you have. My relationship with her is... strained at best." She chuckled. "Making friends with her was a good decision, especially given your position."

"You're... not mad?"

She sighed. "No, I'm not mad. I..." Another sigh. "I can't stop contradicting myself when I think about you. I can't stay mad at you and I love that about you, but at the same time, I hate it!"

"Celestia." I said to her. She looked to me. "That's called being in love."

She gave me a small smile. "I suppose it is... I'll learn to control myself one of these days. It's only been a few thousand years, right?" A chuckle.

"Yeah..."

She made sure my bandage was secure, then pulled away. "It's been a while since I've actually bandaged someone myself. Forgive me if it's... sloppy." She giggled.

"Are you thinking dirty thoughts again?"

She looked down, an embarrassed smile on her face. She gave off another giggle.

I put my hand on her shoulder and brought her in for a hug. We shared a warm embrace.

"I would like to speak more about this, though." she said.

"Yeah, I figured."

"I'm sure you obscured the truth when you told us what happened with Chrysalis before. Can I ask you to tell me what has really happened between us?"

"Yeah, alright. And... Luna can confirm what I say to you, as well."

"My sister knows?"

"Indeed I do." Luna stated. I could feel that she was speaking to both of us.

"And you kept this from me?"

"That's my fault." I said, "I... begged her not to tell."

"Do not be so modest." said Luna, "I was convinced to keep this between us. In truth though, I was curious to see how these events unfolded, so it was in part my fault."

"See, Luna did it all." I jokingly stated.

"You swine!"

I laughed. Celestia smiled.

I told Celestia about my recent encounters with the Queen of the changelings. Luna was primarily an observer, giving her opinion of my actions at times. Celestia listened intently.

It seemed that whenever I spoke to Chrysalis, Luna was unable to hear our words. I filled in the missing details.

Celestia seemed interested. She wasn't mad at me or upset by my words.

When I finished, Celestia mulled over what I had said.

"Queen Chrysalis seems almost attached to you." said Celestia, "Then again, even I've been fooled by her, before."

"It's difficult to determine what she will do at this point." said Luna, "I have a thought. Perhaps we could capture her while she sleeps."

"No, that's a bad idea." said Celestia.

"'Twas merely a thought." replied Luna.

"Phil, would you be able to organize a meeting between us?" asked Celestia.

"I... I guess. I mean, I can try, but..."

She nodded. "If I could meet her under peaceful pretenses..." She sighed. "It will take more than a simple meeting to wash away our feud."

"Gotta start somewhere."

"Indeed. I do not trust her as of yet. I imagine she feels the same of me. Since you've spent this much time with her, she's likely still as powerful as I am. If we could somehow come to an agreement, maybe we could finally make peace between our nations."

"Just think, Phil." said Luna, "Your actions could stop a centuries old conflict between two nations."

"It's still all just a possibility at this point." I said, getting a bit nervous.

"Indeed." said Luna.

"What if she decides to do something to you, Phil?" said Celestia, a worried tone in her voice.

"Like what?"

"Attack you. Capture you. Kidnap you..."

"Well... I hope you give her a good knock on the noggin for me."

Celestia chuckled.

"There would be little you could do to prevent it." said Luna.

"Yeah, but we're friends. You don't kidnap your friends. Unless you're really good friends, then you just kidnap them as a prank."

"She may not be your friend at all, Phil." said Luna, "She may be manipulating you."

Celestia nodded. "As promising as this may seem, my sister is right. Allowing this to continue is a risk. What would you like to do, Phil?"

"Are you letting him choose?" asked Luna.

"I may not like Queen Chrysalis, but I will trust my fiancé's judgement."

"Your... fiancé, sister?"

"I asked him to call me his fiancée..." she said, "It's only right if I do the same."

Luna sighed. "Is it wise to trust her?" she asked, pushing past what her sister said.

"I can't say it is." replied Celestia, "Phil, do you trust her?"

"I mean... I trust her enough that I don't think she'll kill me."

"Phil."

"I don't really know if I do. I know what she does. And she's a meanie-head. But she seemed nice when she needed help. We still have a bargaining chip, at least."

"What do you mean?"

"Red."

"Red? Oh, I understand."

"What are you guys talking about up there? Why am I hearing my name?" Red called from the basement.

"Should we include her in our conversation?" asked Celestia.

"She may be interested in this part." I said.

She nodded. "Red, come upstairs, we have something to discuss." Celestia called back downstairs.

"Alright, I'm coming."

Red opened the basement door and walked out, closing it behind her.

"Is everything alright?" she asked, "What's with those faces?"

"Red, you said you took something from Queen Chrysalis, correct?" asked Celestia.

"That's... right."

"What was it?"

"Why do you want to know?"

"It was Queen Chrysalis's teddy bear." Luna said.

Red had a surprised look on her face. "Is that Princess Luna? Hi Princess Luna! Wait, how did you know? Phil!"

"It was either tell Luna or have Luna tell Celestia that Queen Chrysalis was here."

"But you promised..." she sadly let out. She snickered. "Whatever, I don't care.

Celestia had a curious look on her face. "Does Queen Chrysalis really sleep with a teddy bear?"

"Red, show her."

"Well, what if I don't wanna?"

Luna seemed taken aback by her disrespect.

"Red, why not?" I asked.

"It was my secret. I don't wanna share it."

"Oh, I'm sorry, Red." said Celestia, "I'm sorry that my fiancé has been such a fool recently."

"Rude." I said.

Red snickered again. She stopped suddenly. "Wait, fiancé?"

"Nevermind. Red Shadow, we've called you up here because we believe that you can be of some help to us."

"Um... Maybe. What would I have to do?"

Celestia continued talking. "Queen Chrysalis's presence in this world is a threat to us, as I'm sure you're aware. However, it also means that she is alone."

"Are we gonna attack her?"

Celestia shook her head. "No. Not if we can avoid it. It would be too dangerous. Instead, my plan is to speak with her. If I could negotiate a treaty of sorts between us, it could lead to a treaty between our nations."

"This seems kinda important. And you want me for this?"

"Yes, Red. I... I suppose that I'm not asking you this as your friend. I'm sorry for that."

"No, no, it's alright... I mean, it never hurts to ask, right? It's just that I didn't really expect this from you. You've never asked me for anything like this. It's an honor, really."

Celestia smiled.

"I... I don't mean any offense by this, but... what's in it for me?"

"Your freedom." stated Luna.

Red's eyes opened wide. "Really? Y-Yeah, I'll help if it'll keep me out of jail."

"I'm glad we've come to an agreement, then." said Celestia.

"Alright, s-so... what do I do?"

"Can I see it?" asked Celestia.

Red nodded. She held out her hand, same as when she showed me. A red orb appeared above it. Inside the orb was the bear.

Celestia nodded. "It's cute."

Red closed her hand. The orb disappeared.

"So now what?" she asked.

"My plan is to have Phil set up a meeting between Queen Chrysalis and myself. I'm going to have the bear with me as I speak to her, and I will give it to her when we finish."

"This seems like a risky plan, sister." said Luna.

"It's a risk I'm willing to take. We'll have to see how it turns out. And... Phil, I'm sorry that I'm trying to work while I'm here."

"It's fine. This is important, it's good to take care of it."

She nodded at me. "I didn't expect to be given a chance like this here."

"I'm sure it'll work out." I said.

"So, how did those guys get here, anyways?" asked Red.

"We don't know." said Celestia, "They didn't take the route you did, Red."

"Discord doesn't know, either. Or he does, and he's just not answering me." said Luna.

Another voice entered our conversation. "Wha-at, I really don't know. You're so mean to me, Luna. I don't always keep things from you. What's with that look? Don't you believe me?"

I didn't even have to be there to know that she was just sick of him right now.

"I have a theory, though. Two, actually." said Luna, continuing, "The changelings may have a mirror of their own. However, I believe that this is unlikely, given the mirror's origins. Another method would be that they have discovered or created spells of their own to allow them to travel freely, or at least to follow the cycle that we follow."

"Maybe Discord just let them through the mirror without telling you." said Red, joking.

"Oh, please. Give me more credit than that, will you?"

She laughed to herself.

"At least Phil believes me." he said, "You believe me, right Phil?"

"I'm just gonna say yes." I replied.

He paused, knowing that my reply was just to change the subject. "I'll take it."

"If Queen Chrysalis knows of a spell like that, it would change everything." said Celestia, "We could come and go as we pleased."

"If we give her the bear, she might be willing to share." I said.

"Or she could be lying." said Luna.

Celestia nodded. "That's also possible. Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing for sure."

"We don't really have anything to lose by asking her to meet you." I said.

"Except the bear." said Red.

"Yeah. She might capture me when I ask." I said.

"She may capture me when we speak, as well." said Celestia.

"We don't really have that much leverage here." I said.

"You could threaten to destroy the bear." said Red.

"Let's save that for if we really have to, we don't wanna come off as threatening." I said.

"Indeed." said Celestia.

"So... We have a plan." I said, confirming it.

Celestia nodded.

"It has some risks, but I think it's a good plan." said Red.

"If it works out, a lot of great things could happen." I said.

"And... if it doesn't..." Red grimly let out.

"Yeah... But we have a plan. And I'm tired."

"Right, I'm sorry. You should rest." said Celestia.

"Good luck, Phil. I'll try to assist you when I can." said Luna, "Good night, sister."

"Good night, Luna."

"Yes, good luck." said Discord, "This should be very interesting."

"This is getting exciting." said Red.

"It's getting interesting." Celestia stated. She seemed to be in thought.

"You two patch things up out here?" asked Red.

We both looked to her. Celestia glanced back at me, then returned her gaze to Red. She nodded.

"Well, good. And... You're going to bed?" she asked me.

I gave her a look, then reached for the controller on the table and gave it to her. She took it and sat down next to me on the couch.

I stood up. My body felt heavy. Celestia noticed and held onto me.

I smiled at her.

She brought me to the room.

"The easiest way to speak with her would be if I went to work tomorrow." I tiredly said, "That, or... just going to her house."

She laid me on the bed on my stomach. I grabbed my charging cable and plugged in my phone.

"We'll have to see." said Celestia.

She sat down next to me. I looked up to her.

"I'm tired." I said.

She smiled at me. "I'm sure you are."

"It's hot in here."

"I'll turn on the fan." she said.

She got off the bed and walked to it.

"Turn it to the highest setting." I said.

"Didn't you say that it was too loud and made it hard to sleep?" she asked.

"It's really hot." I said.

She shrugged and did as I asked.

The fan was very loud and very cool.

She returned to the bed, sitting next to me.

I leaned in and whispered something into her ear. When I pulled back, she stared at me, surprised. Her eyes were wide.

I placed a finger in front of my lips to signal her to be quiet. She nodded quickly.

I smiled at her, then leaned in again. We shared another kiss.

I moved my body, getting closer to her.

"I love you." she quickly whispered as she pulled back for a breath.

I smiled at her, then moved down, starting to kiss her neck. She looked up, giving me more area to kiss. I placed my hand onto the side of her neck and kissed the other side, moving my body on top of hers as she sat.

With my other hand, I moved underneath her shirt and held her side.

"Phil..." she whispered.

I moved my head up directly next to her ear. "Shh..." I gently bit down on her earlobe and pulled downwards before continuing my kissing.

I lowered my second hand from her side to her pants as I sucked on her neck. With it, I unbuttoned and unzipped her.

I whispered one more thing to her before starting to tug on her pants.

[Scene missing]

My body hurts. I ached all over. The aftermath of the fight seemed to be affecting me, now. Celestia even went through the trouble of patching me up and it all came off during the night.

This was going to be a long day...

I got out of bed and dressed myself. Celestia was still asleep, it seemed. I collected the bandage that had fallen off me and tossed it into my trash can.

I went out into the front room. Red was gone, but the game was still on. She probably just left it on when she went to bed. Or she was in the bathroom or something.

I hope she wasn't in the bathroom, I needed to shower.

The bathroom door was open, so no, she wasn't in there.

Hold on, hold on... I needed clothes. Stopped myself just in time. I turned right around and went back into my room to retrieve a new set of clothing. To my surprise, my dresser had been cleaned. The clothes inside were all neatly folded. I looked to Celestia, still sleeping on the bed. She did this for me... She's so nice...

With my clothes in hand, I returned to the bathroom. After a quick shower, I went into the kitchen to get something to eat.

"Hey Red." I said, seeing her in the kitchen.

She looked to me. "Hey."

I picked out a box of cereal and began preparing a bowl for myself. "Are you still up, or..."

"Yeah, still up."

"You're gonna mess up your sleep schedule if you keep staying up like this." I said.

"Who cares?"

"Well, me. A little. Celestia might care, too."

"It's not like it matters if I have a sleep schedule. I don't have anywhere to be."

"I guess. It's not healthy, though."

"Healthy?"

"You gotta get eight hours of sleep." I said, "Every day."

She shrugged. "I've lived on four before."

"See, that's not healthy."

"Whatever. I don't need lectures about health from you. Look what you're eating."

"It's got whole grain." I said, "I think." I took another bite from my cereal bowl.

"I am a picture of health, alright?"

I gave her a brief examination. Her hair was frazzled, her face was greasy, her eyes were tired, and she was slouching.

"Clearly."

"Hey, I don't have to take this from you, I have abs." She lifted her shirt to just below her chest and pointed at her stomach for me to see. She did indeed have abs. She was more muscular than I gave her credit for.

My eyes wandered. I noticed that she was wearing Celestia's bra.

"Hey, watch where you're looking!" she warned me, noticing my gaze.

"Red, was there any particular reason to show me your stomach?"

Her eyes opened wide in realization. She covered herself back up. "I hate you." she growled.

"What did I do?"

"You had to point it out, didn't you..."

"You can't do that kinda stuff here, Red. You're not in Equestria."

"You did it! You had your shirt off all last night when I was out here."

"I'm a guy."

"Well, I'm not. Why can't women go around with their shirts off?"

"I don't know. It's always been like that. And I'm not gonna have you argue about this. I don't do it because I have guests. It's rude. Last night was an exception."

She grumbled. "Whatever... I don't wanna argue about it anymore."

"Good morning argue, Red.

"We've been arguing a lot, huh..."

I shrugged. "Wanna play some Mario Kart?"

"Yeah, that sounds good. Hold on though, I need to complete the cup."

She walked to the front room. I followed her, my cereal bowl in my hands.

The two of us sat on the couch. I kept eating as she continued her race.

Right from the beginning, I noticed that she was going faster than normal. It wasn't incredibly fast, so... "Is this 150cc?" I asked her.

"Yep. I made it through both 50cc and 100cc."

"I haven't managed to complete 150cc before." I said, "I'm actually pretty bad at the game."

"What does 'cc' stand for, anyways?"

"I dunno. Cat... club."

She smirked. "Cat club."

"It's the size of the engine, I know that. I just don't remember what cc stood for. Some measurement. You got pretty good at this."

She shrugged. "I guess I did."

From what I could see, she was probably as good as I was. Good for her. She learned all this so quickly. I guess I should've expected this. I'm not all that good a player after all. I can get gold in the 150cc cups, but I can't get three stars in them, so it's a loss in my book. Second place is first loser.

I kept eating as she played. I haven't watched someone play a video game in the same room as me in a long time.

Red got very frustrated when she was hit with items. She hated blue shells so much, which is how any sane person should feel.

When she was finished with the cup, she managed to get gold, but unfortunately, she was only in first place once, meaning that she didn't get any stars.

I picked up a controller. She started another cup. The character select and cart select screens were much more populated than they were before.

I had a lot of time left. Enough to finish. Neither of us got first in the final race, netting us two stars, which bothered me on a deep spiritual level.

Red grumbled.

"Hey, has Celestia been playing this with you?" I asked her.

"Sometimes. Sometimes she watches. She likes seeing me succeed."

"Well, that's nice."

"She's great at this game."

"She picks up stuff pretty quickly."

Red nodded. "You got enough time for another cup?"

"Yeah, I think I do. I'm gonna go check on Celestia."

"Bet she's still sleeping."

"Probably."

I got up and headed into my bedroom. She was still sleeping away in the bed. My alarm didn't wake her. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't.

I walked back out. "I'll let her sleep." I said to myself.

I picked up my empty cereal bowl and brought it to the kitchen to rinse it out and deposit it into the sink. I also went to use the bathroom. As I walked out, I noticed that I had a black eye. I looked closer in the mirror. How unsightly...

I went back out and sat next to Red.

She started another cup. Another win for me. She was visibly frustrated that I was better than her.

"That was fun." I said.

"Yeah, yeah... Are you going?"

"Yeah, it's about time."

"Alright..."

I got up and collected my things from around the house.

"Hey..." started Red as I walked through the living room.

I looked to her. "Hmm? What's up?"

"Uh... Nothing."

"Nothing?"

"Well... pick up some Twinkies before you get back."

"Mk. That's a trip to the store, though. I gotta come back and leave again in the car."

"Alright, that's fine."

"How often do you eat those?"

"I've been eating a lot of snacks here."

"How are you gonna keep those abs if you keep snacking like that?"

"Y-You..." She crossed her arms and looked away. "I work out here, too."

"Oh. Well, good for you."

"You never tell Celestia what to eat..."

"Celestia doesn't get fat."

"She doesn't? Wait, yes she does! She's fat right now."

"Hey, don't insult my fiancée. She's not fat, she's curvy. My god, is she curvy."

"So she's got a big butt, so what?"

"Red, it's ok to be envious of Celestia."

"I do not envy her!"

"Just cause your butt's not as big as hers doesn't mean you don't look good."

"M-My butt looks fine!"

"Well, I'm not arguing with that."

"I don't care what you think of me! I'm not a human, this isn't me."

"Look, you talk to Celestia about this, I gotta go." I said to her.

She sighed, then smiled at me. She nodded. "Yeah, see ya."

I waved at her as I went through the door.

These conversations with Red are getting a little out of hand... I have a girlfriend now. I have a fiancée now. I gotta stop making these jokes. Why does Red... respond so truthfully? Is she picking up on my habits? Probably not. Maybe she just thinks I'm a really good friend... What a nice thought...

Work... Alright then. My body hurts. I'm still so sore. My back hurts...

I did as I always did and walked to work once more. The weather was cold. It was overcast. I patted the umbrella in my pocket.

As soon as I got into work, my fellow workers asked me what happened to my eye. I just told them that I tripped while walking up the stairs from my basement, which they laughed at. After a round of various intelligence-related insults, we got to work.

As always, a normal work day. Until about leaving time, that is.

Sarah approached me just as it was time for me to go. I greeted her. She stayed silent.

"Everything alright?" I asked her.

She looked up to me. "When... When are you coming over?"

I shrugged. "I don't know."

"Phil, please..."

"I still gotta deal with something." I said, "More's happening now than was before. I don't know. I'm sorry."

"I saw that woman get into the car with you. Was that Celestia?"

I shook my head. "Nah. Celestia's way prettier."

"W-Well... who was it?"

"Why do you care?"

"D-Does... your... girlfriend know about her?"

"What?"

"Does she?"

"Uh... yeah, I guess."

"O-Oh..."

"Why are you so curious?"

"I... I... I just..." She started mumbling.

"I... Hmm... Maybe if things go well the next few days I can finally invite you over to meet her. And if things go well then, I'll be able to show up, but I really am still busy. Honestly, I've been so busy that I forgot about you. Sorry about that."

"My parents are getting suspicious of me." she said, a worried tone in her voice.

"I'm sorry, I really can't promise you anything."

"Wh-Why not?"

"'Cause I can't." I said, a bit more serious, "I can't promise that I'll be able to help you. I told you this before. I don't want to find myself in a position where I'm forced to help you, Sarah. I'm a busy man. I'll help if I can, but if you're worried, then it's up to you to make that call."

"Phil, don't..." She paused, then lowered her voice. "Don't do this to me. I need your help."

"And I told you that I'm busy. I will ask when I'm able. Right now, I can't."

She let out a long sigh. She wanted to continue arguing, I could see it in her eyes. I knew that look. She was intimidated by me right now, both as her boss and as a person.

She nodded silently, then turned to walk away.

I hope things work out for her.

As I continued my journey home, it started to rain. I pulled out my umbrella. Just seconds later, someone rushed to join me.

"Chrysalis." I said to her.

She had her disguise on again.

"Hello, Phil." she said to me. Her voice was happy.

"You seem cheerful."

"I've accomplished my mission here. One of my missions, at least. Are you well?"

"I'm fine. Sore."

She chuckled. "Yes, I would imagine. M-My goodness, what happened to your eye? That wasn't there last night."

"Celestia punched me after I told her about you."

"She did what?" She didn't know what to say about that.

"Then she bawled her eyes out and we made up before the night was out."

"My, my, my... Have... Have you made any progress with my... bear?"

"That's what I wanted to talk to you about." I said, stopping.

She looked at me, confused. Under this umbrella, we were close. Very close.

"Celestia knows about the bear." I said.

She opened her eyes wide in shock. "Did... Did you tell her?"

"I told Luna. She would've told Celestia about you if I hadn't."

She blinked a few times, but said nothing.

"Luna, Celestia, and Red are aware of your presence, and they know you want your bear back."

She took in a breath. She seemed irritated. "Was that what you wanted to say to me? That I wouldn't be getting my bear back?"

"They're willing to work out a deal." I said.

She paused. "I'm listening."

"The Princesses have offered Red her freedom is she relinquishes the bear to them. Celestia's plan was to give you the bear in exchange for a meeting with her."

"A meeting. Do you have any idea who I am? I know a trap when I hear one."

"If you don't go, you will not get your bear back, Chrysalis."

She nodded slowly. "I suppose I have no choice, then." She chuckled. "How pathetic I must seem, to be doing this all for a stuffed animal..."

"Celestia has agreed to a peaceful meeting." I said, "All she asks is that you do the same."

Chrysalis sighed. "What does she intend to ask from me?"

"Well, for starters, she wants to know how you and your former soldiers traveled to this world."

She stared at me.

"Other than that, you'd need to speak with her yourself." I said.

She crossed her arms over her chest. "Alright. I'll agree to your terms. I have a few conditions, though."

"Alright then."

"I want you to promise me that nothing bad will happen to me."

"Celestia knows that if she stays calm, you'll stay calm as well. She expects the same from you."

She nodded. "I want you to oversee our conversation."

"Me?"

"I trust you Phil, even though I didn't expect to."

I nodded.

"And... I'll need a new set of clothes." she said. She gave me a small smile.

"What? Why?"

"You saw my clothes after our battle."

"Your clothes now aren't ripped."

"I'm using a disguise. I don't know where these clothes come from. Using disguises and hiding myself is deceitful. I'd like to show Princess Celestia respect if I am to meet her. And I would expect the same from her."

"Alright, I'll see what I can do about that. Would Celestia's clothes be fine?"

"I would prefer something more elegant, but it will do."

"Where are you gonna change?"

"Most likely your garage."

I shrugged. "Alright then. We're almost there. Anything else you wanted to say?"

"If you're lying to me, I'm going to hurt you."

"Fair enough."

When we arrived at the house, I gave Chrysalis the umbrella. "I'll be back."

She nodded, standing out in the cold rain with nothing but an umbrella to cover herself.

I took my hoodie off and gave it to her. "Here." I said.

She took it and promptly put it on, holding up the umbrella with magic.

"Thank you." she stated.

Giving a woman my sweater... I am never going to see that again. Darn, I liked that hoodie, too.

I walked to the front door and went in. Both Celestia and Red were on the couch playing Mario Kart.

"Oh hello, Phil." said Celestia, "Why aren't you wearing a coat?"

"She's here." I said simply.

They both turned to me.

"Chrysalis is here?" asked Red in surprise. She turned and looked out the window blinds. "Oh boy..."

"Good work, Phil." said Celestia, "Did she accept my proposal?"

"She did, but she has some conditions. She wants me to watch over the conversation, and... she needs a new set of clothes."

"Hmm? Clothes?"

"Her own were torn quite a bit in our battle." I said, "Your clothes would fit her, Celestia."

"She's wearing a full set of clothing right now." said Red.

I shrugged. "It's what she asked for."

Celestia sighed. "Pick out whatever you need."

"I'll be back soon."

From what I remembered, she only needed outer wear. Her underwear hadn't been damaged. Or, if they had, I'd just get her some underwear. I got her a shirt and a pair of pants.

"She's just staring at me." said Red, looking out the window as I came back, "It's creepy."

"Get ready for her, you two." I said to them.

Celestia nodded. "Of course."

I went back out, clothes in hand. Chrysalis walked to me and covered the two of us with the umbrella.

She chuckled. "Thank you. Come."

"Come?"

"I'd like for you to accompany me as I enter your house. Wait outside for me."

But it's so cold out here... "Fine."

She flashed me a smile, then started walking towards the door on the side of it.

She gave me the umbrella, then took the clothes.

"No peeking." she teased.

I gave her a sarcastic, "Ha, ha."

She went into the garage. A few minutes later, she came back out. She had changed into her original form, and was now wearing Celestia's clothing. Cute.

"I left my old dress in there." she said, "I can't use it anymore. Do with it what you wish."

"Probably end up just tossing it." I said, "Ready?"

She nodded. "This is an interesting situation I've found myself in."

"It's interesting for all of us." I replied, "This is a risk for Celestia to invite you in, Chrysalis. You understand this, right?"

"It's a risk for me, as well."

"Yeah... Let's go."

We walked back to the house. I went in first. I saw that the front room had been cleaned up. Celestia was inside, waiting for us. She stood at the other end of the room, near the kitchen door. Red stood beside her.

Chrysalis walked inside behind me. I closed the umbrella and stepped to the side. She walked ahead of me.

Three ladies in my house... Not how I imagined it would happen, but...

Celestia held Chrysalis's bear in her arms. Chrysalis glanced at it, then looked back up to her face.

"Princess Celestia." she stated, "Red Shadow."

"Queen Chrysalis." said Celestia.

Red said nothing.

I'm gonna be honest here, it was very hard to take this seriously. Celestia being my fiancée, Chrysalis being my friend, Red just standing off to the side, and the whole thing was happening in my tiny house. This was the opposite of imposing.

Chrysalis glanced at her bear again. "I'm here. What is it you wished to ask of me?"

Celestia gestured to the kitchen with a hand. "We'll talk in here. A place had been set up for you."

Celestia turned and walked through the door. Chrysalis looked to me, then started walking after her. Red and I shared a look. Neither of us has dealt with something this big before.

I walked out to the kitchen. The table had been moved to the center of the room. Three chairs surrounded it. It was a circular table, so they were the same distance from each other.

I assumed that, since I told Celestia that Chrysalis wanted me to watch over the conversations, I had been given a seat of my own. The look on Celestia's face confirmed it. I sat in the empty chair.

Red was not given a chair, but none of us seemed to be interested in shooing her away. She stood near the doorway.

Chrysalis's bear was directly in front of Celestia, just out of her reach. Celestia set it to the side.

It seemed that we were starting. Despite the serious looks on their faces, I couldn't bring myself to think of this as a worrisome thing, even though I did believe that it was. I couldn't tell what anyone was thinking.

"Were you told why I wanted to speak with you?" asked Celestia.

"I wasn't."

Celestia nodded. "You told Phil that you may have information that would allow us to travel between our worlds at will."

"I did."

"Was this a lie?"

Chrysalis glanced at her bear again. "What if I say no?"

"Then we continue speaking. I have many things to discuss with you. And... I hope that we can come to an agreement."

Chrysalis nodded. "It was a lie. I know of no magic to transport us at will."

Celestia nodded solemnly. "Disappointing."

"There are artifacts, however. Your mirror, of course, being one of them. We have methods of our own."

"Hmm..." Celestia was in thought. "And for this information, you were to receive your bear?"

"That's right. May I?"

"I'm not going to keep your possession from you." said Celestia, "However, my plan was to keep it until we were finished speaking."

Chrysalis crossed her arms. She wasn't happy to hear this, but she held her tongue.

"Queen Chrysalis, I know that our nations have been at odds for a very long time."

She snickered. "You could say that..."

Celestia ignored her comment. "This was a risk for you, and I appreciate your cooperation. You and Phil have become friends, from what he's told me."

"He's a good friend to me." She looked to me.

I stayed silent.

"While I'm not particularly fond of the idea of you befriending my fiancé, I am at the same time proud of his achievement. He has accomplished what I have not. What I could not. He alone has given you the gift of friendship. I know that we are not friends, Queen Chrysalis, but in this world, we have been given another chance. So my first question to you is this... Will you agree to a non-aggression agreement between our parties?"

Chrysalis seemed surprised. "My, my, I did not expect you to say that, Princess. An agreement such as this between us may prove useful. I imagine that you weren't planning on attacking me. Likewise, I was not planning on attacking you, either. At the moment, we each have our own agreements for non-aggression. To make it official seems like a good idea."

"Then, you agree?"

"I am not here to battle you, Princess. My goals have not changed, and when I leave here today, I have believe that both will have been accomplished. If I were a lesser woman, I may even feel insulted by your offer..."

"Even you would have no reason to be insulted, Queen Chrysalis."

Chrysalis looked to me, then back to Celestia. "So, if I accept, what will I be allowed to do?"

"What do you mean?"

"You're aware that I often speak privately with your fiancé. Will I be allowed to continue?"

"He's not a child. I cannot tell him not to speak to you."

Chrysalis chuckled. "You're fooling yourself, Princess. It's quite obvious to me that you don't want me to speak to him. I suppose that if somebody I loved was speaking to my enemy, I wouldn't like it, either."

"This conversation isn't about him." said Celestia.

"Oh? Are you sure about that? Who was the one that convinced me to speak to you? Phil, you are a rather important part of our conversation." she said to me.

I spoke up this time. "I know that Celestia doesn't want me speaking to you. She doesn't want me speaking to any woman."

"Phil, that's not true." said Celestia.

"It's ok to be jealous, Celestia. Jealousy is normal. You and I just share a unique relationship. But she's right, Chrysalis. There's no need to make this about me."

Chrysalis turned back to Celestia. "I have no issue with your proposal. I'm just not sure what it means to me."

"It will allow us to speak without risk. We'll be able to converse as if we were allies."

"So... What does that mean?"

"It means she won't come after you if you don't go after her." I said.

Celestia sighed. "In a sense, yes."

Chrysalis chuckled. "Our powers should be about equal right now. You think you have the ability to 'go after me?'"

"If the need arises, I will do what needs to be done."

"I've beaten you before, Celestia. The circumstances aren't too different this time, either."

"And I've defeated you before, Queen Chrysalis. In case you've forgotten."

Chrysalis smirked. "How could I have?"

"Calm down, you two." I said.

They both looked to me.

"Are you giving me orders?" Chrysalis asked me.

"Chrysalis, you got nothing to lose by saying yes. You're just dragging Celestia along."

She smiled. "Nothing to lose? Perhaps not. I don't trust Celestia. She doesn't trust me."

"Phil, we've been at odds for hundreds of years." Celestia said, her voice softened now that she was speaking to me, "We won't be able to just forget what's happened between us so easily."

"Well, why not? You're both smart. You should be able to figure something out."

"It's not that simple." said Chrysalis, "We have our reasons. Your Princess is the one who gave me the holes in my body."

I looked to Chrysalis.

"Although, now I see them as more of a defining trait. My point still stands." She grabbed a handful of her long hair and brought it in front of her. "Do I appear normal to you? Does this hair seem normal?" She dropped her hair, then shook her head, shaking her hair back into position.

"I have nothing to say about that. But I know that you're not innocent either, Chrysalis."

She gave off another chuckle. "Perhaps I'm not."

"You attacked my kingdom, Queen Chrysalis."

"What's with that look? Do you expect me to apologize?"

Celestia shook her head. "No. But I expect you to accept my agreement."

"You don't expect me to apologize? I attacked you on the wedding day of your niece. I laid siege to your city. Everyone knows about it. And you expect no apology?"

"You're not the kind of person who would apologize for something like that."

"Is that so?"

Celestia took in a breath to calm herself. "What's so wrong with a peace proposal?"

"I have nothing against it, Princess Celestia. Continuing my hostility towards you would be a fool's errand. You invited me here to talk. I want to talk."

Celestia nodded. "Then talk. Please." She sounded concerned.

Chrysalis sighed. "When I was first told of this, I assumed it to be a trap. I now think that your request is genuine. And it is for a noble goal. I know what you're thinking. A peace between us as individuals could lead to a peace between our nations. As it stands, peace is the most preferable option. I even believe that peace between our nations is a good thing. But now that I've spoken to you... Now that I've been... insulted like this... I don't know if I can accept your proposal."

"Chrysalis, I haven't been... insulting... I..."

"You've been looking down at me ever since I got here."

Celestia paused. After a small while, she nodded. "I have. I'm sorry."

"You can't see me as your equal." said Chrysalis. Her voice was calm.

Celestia kept staring at her.

"If we cannot view each other on the same level, then there is no peace between us."

"I understand, Queen Chrysalis."

"Is your pride worth so much that you won't accept her treaty?" said Red, joining the conversation.

"Know your place, thief." Chrysalis growled at her.

"Chrysalis, be nice." I said to her.

"Be nice?" she asked me in anger.

"You're already here, Chrysalis!" said Red, "You're speaking directly to her! This isn't Equestria anymore. Look where we are. You're in Phil's house. You're in somebody's home, Chrysalis. You're in the middle of a tiny town in a land you've never heard of. The table you're speaking across isn't even flat. And yet, here you are. You're both willing to meet each other under these circumstances because you knew that nothing would go wrong. Phil, help me out, here."

I nodded at her, then started to speak. "You two are the most powerful women I know. You're both incredible. And both of you are my friend. And even though you're enemies, you agreed to meet because I asked you to, Chrysalis."

"I don't want to continue speaking with someone who looks down at me." she snapped back at me.

"Chrysalis, there's nobody who Celestia doesn't look down to. That doesn't mean that she doesn't respect you or care for you."

"Care for me?"

"I care for all those in my kingdom." said Celestia. Her voice felt powerful. "I care for all those in my world. I care for all living beings, Queen Chrysalis. That is why I offer you peace. I care for your citizens, I care for your soldiers, and I care for you, Queen Chrysalis."

Chrysalis looked away from her. "I don't need you to mother me, Celestia. Is that why? Because you worry?"

"I'm sorry, Queen Chrysalis."

I started to talk again. "Chrysalis..." I turned back to Celestia. She had no idea what I was doing. I reached for the bear. She allowed me to take it.

"Be careful with that." said Chrysalis, starting to stand.

"This is a gift, Chrysalis. From both of us. From all of us." I gestured at Red. "Here. This is yours."

She stared at it in my hands for a short time before taking it.

"Oh, I've missed you." she quietly said to it. She held it in her arms and looked back up at me. "Thank you."

"Your goals are completed, Chrysalis. All I ask of you is that you stay. Please. Just a little while longer."

She stared at me.

"Please, Queen Chrysalis." said Celestia.

"Your love is so strong right now..." said Chrysalis, speaking softly. She looked between the two of us. She placed her bear onto the table, then chuckled. "Very well... I will stay."