This chapter contains mature subject matter. There is no sex, but there is discussion of rape and consensual sex.

Breathing heavily, Twilight opened her eyes to the bright sunlight of noon. A dream... it was just a dream...

It was her own fault. If she'd slept at night, when the moon was out, she wouldn't have had such a horrible dream. Princess Luna probably couldn't actually protect every pony in Equestria from their bad dreams, but she did protect Twilight and the other Element Bearers. Twilight should be sleeping at night, when every other pony did, and when Princess Luna was available to help her avoid having dreams like this.

But Twilight had grown up in the world where Princess Celestia managed both the day and the night, and nopony protected anypony from bad dreams. Until just a little under three years ago, when Princess Luna had come back, it hadn't mattered when Twilight slept, and she'd always done her best work at night when there was nopony around to bother her or interrupt her. So she'd stayed up late, reading, and slept deep into the morning, when Luna wasn't around to protect her anymore.

She ought to be used to it. Before Luna came back she used to have dreams like this all the time. But before, they were never based on anypony real.

Ever since puberty had hit her, Twilight had done her best to repress all the annoying, time-consuming aspects of being a sexually mature mare. She hadn't had a single heat since the first one, because she was very good about taking her potions and applying her heat suppression spells when she needed to, long before any symptoms ever arrived. She'd spent her life studying too hard to even really look at colts much, and besides, they were hopelessly immature, but any stallion who would be interested in as young a mare as she was would be creepy, so they were out too, and while Twilight had conducted a scientific experiment or two with some pornography to see if maybe she might be interested in mares, the answer she was forced to conclude was sadly, no. Which meant, given the sex imbalance where there was a mare and a half for every stallion in the world, that if she wanted to have a romantic life, she was going to have to compete with other mares. Who had probably spent their own adolescent years learning how to be attractive and catch the eyes of stallions, she'd figured, not how to perform arcane magic or do research on primary sources.

Romance, dating and sex were therefore waaaay too much work. Competing with other mares in an area where they were trained and she was not was a dumb idea. Wasting her time mooning after stallions who wouldn't be interested in her because she didn't know how to attract them was also a dumb idea. Hiring a callcolt was just gross, and unnecessary as long as she applied her heat suppression spells. As a teen she hadn't even had time for friends, let alone coltfriends. Now that she did have friends, and had some better idea the challenges that other mares faced, she realized the situation was even more improbable. If somepony as beautiful as Fluttershy or as elegant as Rarity or as fun as Pinkie or as assertive as Rainbow didn't have a coltfriend, what chance did Twilight have?

So she had decided some time ago that she was just not going to spend any time worrying about sex or romance. Which would be great, if her subconscious mind agreed with her, but it didn't. She could handle the erotic dreams; it was embarrassing to wake up and realize that she'd been fantasizing about sex while she was sleeping, but it was normal and a big improvement over the dreams where she was in a classroom and suddenly realized she hadn't been to any of the previous classes in the semester and had no idea what the professor was talking about and now there was a test. Or the dreams where she was being chased by hydras, timberwolves, or a gigantic Fluttershy screaming "ALL SHALL LOVE ME, AND DESPAIR!"

What really, really bothered Twilight were the erotic nightmares.

She'd read a lot of books on the subject, trying to understand. She knew, intellectually, that dreaming of being raped and finding it pleasurable didn't mean that a mare wanted to be raped in real life. Rape fantasies, whether in sleeping dreams or conscious daydreams, indicated that a pony wanted to give up control, or felt guilty over having sexual desires and wanted to be free to enjoy sexual pleasure without feeling as if she were a bad pony who'd consciously chosen it. Either of these seemed like they could describe her. But she really wished her subconscious mind would get over it. The excitement and arousal she felt during these horrible dreams made her feel much guiltier than dreaming about consensual sex would ever make her feel.

Throughout her teens, she had had these kinds of nightmares, frequently. The one mercy had been that they'd never used anypony real as the bad guy. She'd dreamed of unicorn stallions who'd overpowered her magic with their own, of roving gangs of earth stallions who'd broken into her home and gotten a magic-suppressing ring onto her horn before she could wake up and fight back, of pegasus stallions who'd carried her into the air and threatened to drop her if she resisted, and none of them were actually real ponies. She couldn't even describe their faces or cutie marks, usually, just a sense of looming threat from them.

And then Princess Luna had returned, and for some time the dreams had been in abeyance. Maybe because Twilight was spending more time sleeping at night now that she had friends on a normal schedule to stay synched with, and Princess Luna was able to help her by blocking those dreams before they could form. She'd even had a few where instead of being raped, she'd successfully fought back or been rescued by her friends, and she thought maybe Luna had had a hand in those.

And then, two years ago, they'd fought Discord.

Twilight pressed her hooves to her face in utter humiliation. This was not the first time her subconscious mind had decided to cast Discord as the villain in one of these dreams. He was the only actual living being she'd ever dreamed into one of these things, and it was utterly horrifying because he was real and because it was actually plausible. While she had never heard of Discord raping anypony, and he had seemed a lot more interested in generally spreading chaos than in personally torturing anypony in such a way, the fact was she knew almost nothing about him; he'd been free for less than one day, and everything else she knew came from Celestia. Ancient books that should have had records in them from the Discordian Era generally didn't. What she did know about Discord was that he enjoyed psychologically tormenting ponies and he didn't seem to have any concern whatsoever for their suffering. Which didn't really provide any good argument against the possibility of him committing rape.

While he'd been in stone, she'd at least been able to convince herself, when she woke up from such dreams, that it couldn't happen, that he was sealed away and couldn't harm anypony. But now he was loose. Supposedly reformed, after just a couple of days. As if one could possibly reform anypony in a couple of days. He'd seemed sincere when he'd agreed to undo what he'd done for the sake of Fluttershy's friendship, and when the six of them had brought him to Celestia, but not an hour after Celestia was gone Rainbow Dash had reported that he'd turned Rarity's shop into an actual carousel, and the fact that he'd fixed it, grumbling, as soon as Fluttershy had told him to, didn't make a good argument that he'd respect any other pony's wishes.

So now here she was having nightmares about Discord making her horn disappear and raping her, and her enjoying it, which was horrible on so many levels, and he was actually out of the stone and free and she might even have to interact with him today, and if it had been anypony else she could shrug it off because she didn't know of any stallions who could actually take her in a fight... but there was only one way to defeat Discord, and it wouldn't work if he went after somepony individually. If her nightmare actually came true somehow there would be absolutely nothing Twilight could do to protect herself.

Not that she seriously was worried; dreams or no dreams, in reality Discord didn't seem to have any interest in sex aside from using innuendo to annoy ponies for amusement, and she didn't think Princess Celestia would have left Fluttershy alone to reform Discord if Discord was dangerous in that way... but then again, Princess Celestia had had the whole idea about reforming Discord in the first place, and it was so obvious how many ways that could have gone horribly wrong that Twilight was... uncertain she could completely and 100% trust the Princess's judgment in this matter. Which seemed heretical to even think, but... given a choice between trusting the Princess completely, which involved trusting Discord at all, and distrusting Discord completely, which involved distrusting the Princess just a little bit... well, Twilight was really torn between the options right now.

Well. She was awake now, and there was no way she was going to get back to sleep at this point. Spike was apparently already up; she didn't see him, and he'd probably have gotten too hungry to stay in bed by now, so he was probably getting breakfast, or shelving books, or goofing off. Most likely goofing off, if he hadn't come upstairs to wake her.

Twilight swung her hooves out of bed and stepped on something alive, which said, "Really, Twilight, first you go having these horrible fantasies and then you step on me? Where's the friendship? The compassion?"

She looked down at Discord, who was lying sprawled on her floor, impersonating a rug in that he was implausibly flat, his head lifted slightly and smirking up at her.

So she did the only thing that made sense under the circumstances.

She shrieked like a banshee and leapt back up onto her bed, horn glowing and a personal shield forming around her.

Discord sat up and started laughing hysterically at her, pointing. "The expression on your face! Simply hilarious! Oh, this almost makes up for having to put up with your sordid fantasy life!"

"My... my..." Twilight's voice was shaking in a combination of terror, humiliation and righteous rage. "You were spying on my dream?"

"How can you call it spying when you cast me as the main antagonist? Really, Twilight, do you expect me to ignore it when you use my likeness in your own private little stage play in your head?" He tsked at her. "You didn't even ask permission, let alone agree to pay me royalties. And you presented the material as if it weren't even fictional! I should sue you for libel, or something. At the very least copyright infringement."

"You were... how did you do that? You can't read minds!" The possibility that maybe he really could was horrifying... although, how could he know what she had been dreaming about unless he could?

He chuckled. "Neither can dear Princess Woona, but she can walk in dreams. And dreams, dear Twilight, are the purest expression of chaos a pony's mind can produce. I have just as much ability to dreamwalk as she does."

"So what, you go around causing nightmares?" She jumped off her bed, the fear transmuting to utter rage. What right did he have? "Did you make me have that dream? Is that how you get your kicks?"

Discord smirked. "I don't need to give ponies nightmares. If I wanted to cause chaos, and I usually do, I'd do it when they're awake for it. The problem with chaos in dreams is that chaos belongs in dreams, and chaos is so much more fun when it goes where it doesn't belong."

She shuddered. There wasn't any real innuendo in the phrase, he wasn't leering or applying any more smirk than his usual amused arrogance, but after the dream she'd just had, the idea of Discord associating fun with anything going where it didn't belong was terrifying. "Then what were you doing in my dream?"

"I already told you. You were dreaming about moi. Don't tell me you wouldn't look in on ponies dreaming about you if you were a dreamwalker."

"That's a complete violation of ponies' privacy! I'd never do that!"

"And yet your beloved Princess of the Night does it all the time." Discord rolled his eyes. "At least I only look in on the dreams about me. Luna is so insecure. I don't know why she can't accept that more ponies are going to come up with pornography in their sleep about her sister than her; it's a simple fact, she's been away for a long time. When you've been out of the game for a thousand years, ponies tend to stop having fantasies about you. I should know."

"I can't imagine anypony having a fantasy about you."

"Says the mare who just did."

"That was a nightmare! That wasn't a fantasy!"

"Really?" He leaned into her face, grinning. "You certainly seemed to be having a great deal of fun, for a pony having a nightmare."

Twilight's fight-or-flight instincts triggered at his proximity. She backed up, and when his face came in just a little bit further on the word "nightmare", she panicked, and shoved him, hard, with a bolt of magic to the face. Discord's head went snapping backward, and he stumbled, falling backward into levitation rather than landing on his haunches. "Get out of my face! In fact get out of my room!"

Discord didn't seem even slightly discombobulated by the shove. He remained floating in air, twisting his body around so he was now lying horizontally in midair, paws (and talon, and hoof) sprawled under him like he was a lion getting ready to pounce, except for the part where the surface they were sprawled on was entirely imaginary, and also not even with the floor. He was tilted down at her, tail swishing, creating the very uncomfortable impression that he was going to pounce on her. "And let you run around having these absolutely ridiculous nightmares about me? My good mare, I have a reputation to protect."

"I can't control my dreams," Twilight said, breathing hard. She wanted nothing more than to run, but he was between her and the door. Or to pick him up with her magic and start smashing him against the wall, preferably a few dozen times. "Nopony can."

"Oh, but I think you can. Didn't you notice how utterly boring your dream was? No random jumps in time, no ponies appearing out of nowhere and suddenly being somepony you've known all your life, the scenery was a real place – in fact, it was right here, and I have to say, while your ability to recreate the reality you live in precisely in your dreams is certainly impressive, it's a dire waste of an imagination. Really, if you have to imagine me doing something utterly vile to you, couldn't you have come up with someplace creative for me to be doing it in? Inside a seashell? Under a volcano? Something?"

"My dreams don't exist to entertain you, Discord. I don't care if you think my dream scenery is boring."

"Ah, yes, of course, you were saving all your creativity for the main event." He twisted around again to lie mostly on his back, as if he were lying against a sloping surface, which also wasn't there. "As repulsive as I found the plotline of your twisted little fantasy, I do have to give you some points for perversity. Why, I would have never imagined a sheltered, virginal little unicorn mage who's spent her whole life being Celestia's perfect student would have such... creative imagery to bring to mind." Now his smirk was bordering on a leer. Twilight's heart pounded in her chest. Her face burned, but her whole body felt cold. "Do you know, I'm ashamed to say, you've actually outdone me in some respects? I hate to admit it, but I never actually thought of that trick with the second mouth before—"

"GET OUT!" She started grabbing the books that were lying around the room in mid-read, or post-read and pre-reshelving, or set aside to read later, and began throwing them at Discord with great force. He laughed, dodging most of them, blocking some with his paws or tail, and making dramatic "oof" noises every time she actually hit him with one.

When all the books were used up, scattered on the floor, and Discord still hadn't gone anywhere, she considered regathering them to throw them at him again, but that might damage the books and obviously the first barrage hadn't hurt him any. She backed away again. "I'm serious, Discord. Get out of my room. Now."

"Or what?" he asked lazily.

"Do you have any idea what you're doing? Or do you know exactly what you're doing?" she snarled. "You spy on my dreams, you break into my room, you start making, making these innuendos after I had a dream like that and you—are you threatening me, Discord? Seriously? Or are you just being an even bigger total jerk than usual?"

"Threatening you?" His eyebrows went up. "With what? I haven't made a single threat."

"You're in my room!" Her voice was shaking. "You're not clueless, don't even pretend. You saw that dream and here you are in my personal space and you won't leave when I tell you—" She broke off, panting. He knew exactly what he was doing, he had to know. The question was, was he playing with her, tormenting her by implying a threat with his body language just to scare her, or was there something worse going on?

"Twilight." He was ostentatiously shocked, paw to his forehead like he was about to fall onto Rarity's fainting couch. "You don't sincerely mean to tell me you actually think I might behave like that brutish doppelganger of me in your dream, do you?" Discord's head came forward again in a parody of sincerity. "Why, the dialogue you gave me was simply appalling! The worst sort of mustachio-twirling villainous inanity I can think of! If it weren't for your, hmm, imagination when it came to, shall we say, my fictional performance, I might entirely despair of your creativity."

Her vision was hazing over, red with fury and dimming at the edges. The humiliation was like a flame licking at her, and she wanted to curl up like a burning piece of paper and vanish into ashes. But not before killing Discord. Several times. "Just leave me alone!"

"Relax." He snorted. "I'm certainly not here to make your dreams come true, Twilight. If perhaps I hadn't made it incredibly obvious already, I find the thought of doing the things you imagined me doing to be quite disgusting. And since I'd rather not have to rearrange the clouds to say 'NO, TWILIGHT SPARKLE, DISCORD DOES NOT RAPE PONIES' to get it through your head that that is not something you need fear from me, I thought I'd tell you in person."

Her heart rate slowed. The relief she felt almost made her stagger. By now she knew Discord well enough to know when he was being fake-sincere, which was most of the time, and actually sincere, and he was being the second now. The irritation and indignation in his voice were genuine. "I, uh... thanks? I guess? Although you shouldn't even have seen that dream, it's really horrible that you go spying on pony dreams and you know ponies can't control what we dream about, so you're being an even bigger jerk than usual acting like I meant to dream about that!"

"Actually, ponies can. Just ask Pinkie Pie. Or Luna herself, for that matter. It's a learned skill, and the fact that you're capable of keeping your dreams so disgustingly orderly suggests that it's a skill you could learn."

"Orderly?" Her voice was shrill. "What was orderly about that dream?"

"Oh, are we confusing the concepts of order and good again? Dear me. I already told you. You kept events in logical sequence, you set the stage in a real place and accurately depicted it, and while the dialogue you gave me, and for that matter yourself, was appallingly clichéd, it was appropriate to the circumstance. You didn't have a dream, Twilight, you wrote, directed, produced and performed in a movie in your head. The fact that it was a badly written pornographic horror film doesn't change the fact that you exerted much, much more control over it than the average pony does to their dreams. And I would very much prefer if you restrain yourself from using my likeness in these films of yours." He was suddenly floating over her head, making her flinch away and stagger back into her nightstand. "If you must cast me as a villain, I do believe you have some experience with what I actually do with that role. Have me unleash all the storms of chaos you like, I'd take great vicarious enjoyment out of that. Or, if you simply must ease your sexual frustration at how much you lust after my body, I wouldn't be offended by your dreaming up a consensual scenario."

"I do not lust—I have no interest in you! None! At all!"

"Mm, really? Then why did dreaming about me as your villainous ravisher get you excited enough that if you'd been a stallion, you'd need to be changing your sheets now?"

That was too far. She grabbed the entire nighttable and slammed it into his face, quickly enough that he didn't react in time. Discord reeled back and this time, actually fell on the floor.

"Ow! That was hardly very friendly."

"I don't feel friendly toward you, Discord. I don't know why I had that stupid dream or why you were in it but it had nothing to do with actually wanting you." She took a deep breath. "You go on and on about how my dream is too orderly and too much like how something might go in real life and not chaotic enough. Did you ever think maybe my subconscious mind picked you out as a potential rapist because it seems like it's in character?"

He blinked at her. "Exactly when have you ever known me to rape anypony?" he asked indignantly.

"You were out and free and causing chaos for just one day, and I wasn't with you every moment of that day. I don't know you well enough to know what you won't do. But I know what you do do. You mess with ponies' minds. You alter their bodies. You wreck their stuff. You laugh when they suffer. You don't stop when anypony begs you to. Also, did I mention you break into mares' bedrooms while they're sleeping and spy on their dreams? Because that isn't totally creepy at all."

"Oh, and it's not 'totally creepy' for you to be having a dream where I'm doing something that in actual fact I'd find repulsive, simply to satisfy your hidden desires?"

"I wasn't conscious! You were!"

"I wasn't conscious when I saw your dream either!" he snapped. "You woke me up!"

Twilight stared at him. Discord actually looked slightly sheepish, as if he'd just said something that embarrassed him. "You were sleeping when you invaded my dream?"

Discord sighed. "I haven't quite re-mastered the concept of not astral traveling while I'm asleep. For... centuries... dreamwalking was the only contact I had with other sentient beings whatsoever, and I could only do it while I was sleeping, or I'd certainly have tried to implant more ponies with the notion that it would be a great idea to stage a revolution against the crown from Canterlot Gardens. I'm... out of practice in keeping it under conscious control."

"And you insulted me for not controlling my dreams, when you can't control invading pony dreams while you're asleep?"

He actually looked angry as he got to his feet. "I am recovering from spending a thousand years in a most uncomfortable imprisonment. Given what sensory deprivation does to ordinary ponies, I think I am doing remarkably well with my sanity and self-control at the moment. What's your excuse?"

"How did you get into my room if you were sleeping?"

"Dear me, where did you get that idea? I wasn't asleep when I came in here, no."

"Then how did I wake you up?"

"By having that awful dream, of course. How would you feel if you were peacefully asleep and suddenly some pony you know waltzes into your dream and starts making you watch an embarrassing and horrible pornographic dream starring yourself doing things you would never do?"

"I didn't waltz into your dream, Discord, you waltzed into mine."

"Details. And you still haven't explained to me why you think it would be in character for me to commit such an act."

Twilight sat down on her bed, facehooving. "What part of 'you have no respect for what any pony wants because you just want to do what you want to do when you want to do it, and also you like making ponies suffer emotional torment' makes it out of character? Discord, you alter ponies' minds. How do you not see that that screams 'potential rapist'?"

Discord glared at her. "Do you honestly think I need to stoop to rape to get a pony to have sex with me? Or any other species?" As she stared at him, trying to figure out how to answer that question, his glare grew darker. "You do, don't you. All you ponies do. You think, because I look too different from a pony to meet your standards of beauty and too similar to a pony to fall under the rules you'd apply to an entirely different species, that I am hideous. And furthermore, you're so arrogantly equicentric that you think I think I'm hideous, and that I feel ashamed of my appearance or angry at ponies for failing to appreciate me for what I am, and that therefore I must run around mind-controlling ponies or simply forcing them, because what sane pony could possibly want me?" He snorted. "It never occurs to you for a moment what egregiously huge blinders you have on."

Twilight tried to think of a tactful way to phrase this. "I'm... not seeing the blinders." Okay, maybe that wasn't so tactful.

"They never do," he sighed. "Listen here. I am not a hideous shambling monster who draws my sense of self-worth from the opinions of a completely different species. I am unique, a rare and exotic delight for beings of refined and discerning taste. I am no more likely to force myself on a pony who can't appreciate me than a museum curator is to show up at the home of one of Applejack's inbred cousins and demand that they take possession of a piece of priceless modern art." He began to float, stretching himself out again. "There are ponies, and creatures of other talking species, who do in fact appreciate the unusual, the eccentric, even the chaotic. And those are the only beings with whom I have the slightest interest in sharing my extensive capabilities in the art of giving pleasure. I am amazing, a sexual experience with me is a mind-blowing extravaganza of ecstasy for those who are open-minded enough to embrace it, and I will not degrade myself to the level that ponies seem to think I belong on by treating myself as something pathetic and monstrous who can never be wanted by any living being." He was scowling down at her in what seemed like genuine anger.

"I guess modesty isn't really your thing, though," she said sardonically.

"I'm accustomed to making those who want me beg for it, Twilight. I've had the most beautiful, powerful mare in the world throw herself at me, pleading with me to take her virginity. Actually more like demanding. Actually now that I think about it, she more or less threw me on her bed and ravished me, and I suppose if she hadn't been so stunningly beautiful I might have had an objection to it." He smirked.

"TMI, Discord, TMI! I do not need to know the details of your sex life!"

"Apparently you do, because otherwise you'll make them up. Why, when I've had males and females of every species you can think of throwing themselves at my feet begging me to take them to bed, would you imagine I could possibly settle for anything less? Why would I force something as valuable and precious as my body and my attention on some patently unworthy pony who can't appreciate or enjoy something as striking and wondrous as I am?" He struck a pose like a parody of a pin-up mare, talon behind his head, paw on his chest, body turned and angled like he was displaying it for the sake of the ponies who agreed with him about how fantastic he was, which seemed to Twilight as if it had to be a very small number.

"Fine, you think you're wonderful, I get that. I knew you were arrogant, but it's starting to sound like you're overcompensating."

"I'm what now?" Discord glared at her.

"But that's not the point. Rape isn't about sex, it's about power. That's what all the books I've read say. And you can't tell me you don't enjoy having power over ponies. You like to make us squirm, you like to make us suffer, you like to humiliate us and make us feel powerless. Don't try to tell me you don't."

Discord's glare turned into a smirk. "Why, Twilight, it sounds like you're trying to convince me to change my mind."

"I am not!" Twilight felt her cheeks redden again. "I just – you say you don't do those things, fine, but you do so many other terrible things... I need to know where you draw the line, and why. I'm trying to understand it."

He drew his legs under him so he was more or less sort of sitting as he floated. "Well. I freely admit it, I'm the spirit of disharmony. I do, in fact, enjoy making tiny little pony minds crack when they're too inferior and too rigid to adapt to my chaos... well, I did enjoy it, but I suppose I've given it up for now." He sighed. "But tell me, how do you think Rarity would react if you suggested that she might make a dress by taking a chainsaw to ordinary fabric and then putting the pieces together with duct tape?"

"What does that have to do with—"

"Anypony can commit rape, Twilight. It doesn't take power, it doesn't take imagination, it doesn't take panache. It's the most obvious, oldest, most clichéd mind-breaking technique in the history of sentience. And beyond. Animals that don't talk can commit rape. There's nothing about it that's unique, unusual, stylish, or anything other than utterly jejune and overplayed. I torment ponies with style and wit. I craft specialized, elegant cruelties... or, again, I did. Or, I create something wonderful and hilarious and strange, and ponies react to it with utter terror, which is, I admit, hysterically funny, but I'd enjoy it even more if they reacted to it the way I would."

"That's not true. Pinkie Pie loved your chocolate rain and you still messed with her head."

Discord sighed, stretched his legs downward to meet the ground, and stood, no longer floating. "I actually didn't want to do that, not to her. The rest of you, well, yes; I still think that Rarity's love affair with Tom was a masterpiece on my part, and the fact that none of you have ever figured out that the whole concept of Loyalty allows it to break down the moment the pony with the trait has more than one friend amuses me to this day. But I did truly hate having to destroy Laughter, even temporarily." He shrugged. "Unfortunately, Pinkie Pie had a weapon in her hooves that could do very unpleasant things to me, and while none of you seemed to have figured out that your connection to the Elements was two-way and you could potentially draw them back to you even if I hid them far better than I did, I couldn't take the risk that you'd figure it out. I had to render Pinkie unable to use her weapon, because I couldn't take it from her permanently. Self-defense, you understand."

"Don't go telling me this. If you're sorry about what you did to Pinkie you ought to be telling her."

"Hmm. Maybe I will. She certainly wouldn't expect it." He smiled. "I imagine it's rare to be able to successfully surprise Pinkie Pie."

Twilight was still shaking slightly. She drew her hooves up under her to sit fully on the bed. "Discord, I don't want to have dreams like that. I especially don't want to have them about you. I didn't... I didn't choose to have that dream. And I had no idea that you could see ponies' dreams, or that you might do it by accident. Maybe you ought to sleep at night so Princess Luna can help you stick to your own head?"

He waved a paw dismissively. "I can't stick to a schedule, Twilight, I'd have thought that was obvious. And Luna's never been able to walk my dreams. I doubt she could help me and I doubt she'd want to if she could. She hates me, you know."

"I didn't, actually. She's never mentioned you one way or another."

"Oh. Well, now you know. I'm sure she could keep me out of your head, though, so perhaps you ought to be sleeping at night."

"I know I should. I just... I like being up at night."

"By all means tell her so. If she's anything like she used to be, she's so massively insecure she'd probably fall deeply in love with you just because you like being up at night. Although in your case I suppose it hardly matters; one can't very well enjoy the stars when one's nose is buried in a book."

Twilight decided to ignore all of that rather than splutter at the many embedded stupidities hidden in Discord's words, which were probably carefully crafted to make her splutter. "How do I learn to control my dreams?"

"Presumably you ask Luna. I'm sure once she knows you looove the night, she'll do anything for you. " Discord levitated into midair again. "I trust you'll take steps to ensure that you don't do anything as repulsive as this again?"

"What steps are you going to take to make sure you stay out of my head?"

"Mm, probably none. It doesn't do me any good to not look at your twisted fantasies if I know you're still having them."

"I am not having fantasies about you! They're nightmares!"

"Nightmares, like all dreams, are by definition fantasies." He sighed ostentatiously. "Under the circumstances, I suppose I should offer to let you get it out of your system if you want to. Normally I make ponies prove how desperate for me they are before I condescend to touch them, but you've beaten me in a fight, something very, very few ponies have done, and that makes you interesting. I wouldn't make you beg, Twilight; you would only need ask."

"What the—I'm not attracted to you! At all!"

"You know, very often they'd say that. Right before they came up with some elaborate excuse why they needed to meet with me in private, or accompany me to my bedchambers, or something, and then as soon as nopony could hear them they began singing a completely different tune. A shame, how you ponies act as if xenophilia is some sort of horrible perversion and make xenophiles feel they have to hide their true nature, but I suppose it creates enough disharmony that I can't complain about it too much."

Twilight glared at him. "For a guy who claimed he never had any friends before, you sure sound like you're the one singing a different tune now. How am I supposed to believe anything you say about your having dozens of relationships in the past when you told Fluttershy she was your first friend?"

Discord guffawed. "Oh, my dear, naïve Twilight, you think I had relationships? That I was friends with any of them? Of course not! If they wanted my body, I could generally be persuaded to oblige them, once they'd proven their sincerity, but if they wanted my heart, well, I hear ponies in Tartarus want ice water. You can't have something that doesn't exist anymore... not if your own powers aren't sufficient to reconstitute it, at any rate. Occasionally I could be persuaded to grant a repeat performance to somepony who demonstrated exceptional creativity, open-mindedness, appreciation and generosity during our first encounter, but most of them got only one."

That, she could believe. She was having a hard time believing that any of Discord's outrageous self-aggrandizement could possibly be true, but then, it was true that there were ponies Rarity knew who would pay outrageous sums of bits to own canvases that somepony had randomly flung paint all over. So she supposed it was possible that there were ponies who really did want somepony as bizarre-looking as Discord badly enough to put up with his personality for the night... and he probably was really good at it if he wanted to be, the evil version of him in her dreams certainly was and the real thing was probably more creative than her imagined version of him and also probably got a big ego trip out of his partners agreeing with him that he was all that... so, maybe he was telling the truth, or an only slightly skewed version of the truth. Certainly the part about him treating his partners as completely disposable and replaceable seemed totally in character.

It didn't really matter all that much. If he was emotionally invested in seeing himself as someone that a small number of very weird ponies that he'd decided to view as connoisseurs would sacrifice their pride and self-esteem to be with, and he thought of rape as something that only sexually unattractive ponies and incompetent, uncreative would-be torturers would do and he didn't want to be seen as either one... then he was probably telling the truth about not being willing to stoop to such a thing. That was what was important here, not whether Discord's outrageous egotism had any basis in reality.

"Fine. I can believe that. But Discord, it's not good enough to tell me I need to learn how to control my dreams and you're not going to do anything to avoid violating my privacy in the future, or anypony else's. I don't care if somepony's dreaming about you dismembering and eating foals, dreams are private and you have no right to intrude on them no matter what they're dreaming about. If I can learn to control what I dream about while I'm sleeping, you can certainly learn how to control your powers. I mean, how old are you?"

"Perhaps you missed the part where I said I've lost the control I had once? If you disapprove, maybe you'd like to have a discussion with your precious Princesses about why it might possibly not be a good idea to turn someone to stone and leave them that way for a millennium? You're all lucky I didn't wake up during one of the time periods when I was destroying the world for fun because I knew it was a hallucination anyway, or I might have actually done it before I caught on that I wasn't a statue anymore. If the worst thing I do to any of you as a result of what your Princesses put me through is accidentally walk in on one of your dreams, you ought to be giving me medals for my self-control."

Twilight stared at him. "I don't understand."

"I'm not interested in explaining. Read up on what sensory deprivation and isolation does to the mind, bookworm. You're all lucky I'm not totally insane."

"You know, at school, when somepony failed a test because they were under a lot of stress and ponies were teasing them and they didn't get enough sleep and the book wasn't clear and they had the wrong page of exercises to do, the teachers were all very understanding, but they still got a failing grade. If there are obstacles in the way of doing what you need to be able to do, you have to get through them. You can't just fail over and over and say, oh, it's not my fault, bad things happened to me. It's completely incompatible with friendship to be spying on somepony's dream and then taunting them about it. I don't care how hard it is for you to re-learn how to keep your mind to yourself while you're sleeping, you have to do it, because what you just did to me is really, really wrong."

"Would you have preferred to continue to be secretly terrified that the absurd version of me from your dreams might somehow represent reality?"

"Uh, yes. Yes, this whole conversation has been unbelievably awkward and I want to go spork my eyeballs out now and give myself a frontal lobotomy and maybe remove the top of my skull and pour bleach on it, all of which are metaphorical so don't go getting any ideas. I'm glad to know you don't rape ponies in your spare time, and maybe I can stop having that horrible dream, which I hate having far more than you hated having to see, now that I know there's no chance you'll really do anything like that... but you're still a jerk and you spied on my dreams and then you made fun of me for it. I already knew you were a jerk, but if you do that to anypony else they'll probably hate you forever."

"So it would be all right to spy on somepony's dream if I don't then go make fun of them for it?" Discord said dryly.

"Yes! Yes, that would actually be better! If you can't stop yourself from seeing other ponies' dreams – which you still really need to try to relearn how to do, but if you can't – then at the very least don't ever tell them you saw it or mention anything from it!"

"Well, fine. I will refrain from pointing out to any other ponies that their oneiristic characterization of me is absurd and wrong. And yes, I will attempt to get it under control; I don't actually like having my mind wander loose while I'm sleeping, you know. It was one thing when it was the only contact I ever got to have with any other thinking being, but now that I can talk to anypony I want when I'm awake, I'd really prefer not to randomly wander around in pony minds without any conscious control of what I'm doing. But if I fail to get it under control and I find that you're still having such repulsive dreams about me because you didn't bother to learn how to lucid dream, you will get an earful. I'll keep my opinions to myself regarding other ponies' dreams, but now that we've had this little conversation I can't see that any further discussion of the topic could possibly be more embarrassing than what we've already endured."

Twilight was about to retort something angrily when she realized what he'd just said. He'd used "we", not "you."

"This, uh... this embarrasses you too?"

"Oh, what do you think, Twilight? I sleepwalk into somepony's dream and find out that someone who actually knows me, somepony who was there when I lowered myself to bow to Celestia, is imagining me doing something that is both horribly out of character for me and that signifies that once again, somepony thinks I ought to think I'm a horrific monster nopony could possibly want? How could that possibly be humiliating?"

"I never actually thought that," Twilight said. "Believe me, your logic about why you don't want to commit rape is so weird, nopony would ever come up with it independently. I... didn't really think about you and your motives at all. I mean, I didn't have that dream on purpose, but... you really did mess with my friends' heads. And mine, by messing with them. You really did take my magic. You're scary, Discord. Not because of what you look like but because of what you've actually done, to me and my friends. I'm... guessing it's going to take a lot more from you than just you saying 'I'm reformed now' before you stop being scary."

"Well, I'm not going to apologize to you," he said huffily. "What I did to you, I did in self-defense, and it didn't even work, and I'm fairly certain I suffered more from your response than you did from what I did, so as far as I'm concerned we can call it even and let bygones be bygones or we can both seethe with resentment and hatred toward each other, and frankly, you will be a lot worse off if we go down that road than I will."

"I never asked you to apologize."

"Good, because I'm not going to." He stretched. "Except to Pinkie Pie. I think I actually will go do that. Her reaction ought to be good for a chuckle."

"Don't apologize to her if you're not sincere about it. She'll be able to tell."

"But I am sincere. I regret what I did to her because the world needs more Laughter, not less, and I regret what I did to Fluttershy because I cheated. I don't regret what I did to any of the rest of you."

"And we don't regret turning you to stone," Twilight snapped. Which wasn't entirely true. She had read a few things about the results of sensory deprivation and isolation on imprisoned ponies... not in full-blown research-mode detail, but enough to have a glimmering of why that might have been a truly terrible thing to do to anypony. It had been necessary, but she might find it in her heart to regret that there hadn't been a better way, and to be glad that Fluttershy's method seemed to be at least sort of working so they might not have to have doing that to him on their consciences again. She wasn't going to tell him so, though. Not when he was gloating about how few regrets he had.

Discord smirked. "Oh, I never thought you did." He looked thoughtful. "But Fluttershy does. Perhaps Pinkie might, since I'm prepared to apologize to her."

"It would probably make her feel better, at least," Twilight said.

He looked down at her. "Then I suppose I'll take my leave of you. Au revoir, Twilight. Stop dreaming such disgusting things."

Before she could retort anything back at him, he snapped his talon and was gone.

Twilight sighed. She supposed she needed to go get breakfast now. And probably take a shower. And find out what had happened to Spike. She was incredibly grateful to whatever powers of fate there might be that Spike had not been here for any of that conversation.

Next: Discord takes Pinkie Pie out to dinner to apologize to her for the maze. It goes well, until it doesn't.

This story is in the same continuity as "The Last Draconequus", "Princess Twilight Sparkle Endcaps" and "Elements of Opposition." The fic sequence for this particular continuity goes like this:

Last Draconequus and related fics: Discord's childhood and history

Awkward Conversations: Post "Keep Calm and Flutter On", pre-Alicorn Twilight. Discord has conversations with several other characters. Most of them do not go well.

Princess Twilight Sparkle Endcaps:

- Vines: Pre-"Princess Twilight Sparkle". Discord decides to help with the vines. Mostly.

- Detente: Post-"Princess Twilight Sparkle". Zecora comes to Discord with an offer from the Tree of Harmony, and some advice.

Light Rain: Discord has something to show Fluttershy. Bridge between "Princess Twilight Sparkle Endcaps" and "Elements of Opposition".

Elements of Opposition (series):

- Discord in Hell (Not Literally): Discord travels to an alternate universe to wreak entertaining havoc, and picks the wrong one. After being enslaved with twisted versions of the Elements of Harmony that his now-dead counterpart had corrupted, thus corrupting their Bearers, Discord writes a desperate plea for help.

- Twilight Sparkle's Report On The Entropic Gradient: Technically happens before "Discord in Hell". The corrupted Twilight Sparkle outlines her plan for Discord to her version of Princess Celestia.

- Dragonfire and Sympathy: The alternate Spike is trying not to have any sympathy for Discord.

- World Without Harmony: Stories of the alternate universe.

- Elements of Opposition: The Mane 6 from the regular universe go on a mission to rescue Discord from the alternate universe.

These are not hyperlinked because fanfiction dot net strips hyperlinks, but all of them either are or soon will be available on my author page.

For updates and notes about my work, visit my Livejournal at alara-r dot livejournal dot com. (Fanfiction dot net strips links, so I have to write it out like that.)

Support my writing and see sneak previews, incompletes, outlines and working notes! Maybe even vote on what I write next, or get me to write you a fic. See my account at www dot dot com slash alarajrogers.