AUTHOR'S NOTE: It is highly recommended that you read the fanfiction Bubbles (see description) before reading this chapter, or else the full emotional intent of the chapter will not be realized. Manly tears may follow. Or girly tears, if you're female.
..."Girly tears?" Is that even a thing?
The TARDIS' doors opened to a dark forest. The Doctor wasn't sure why she had taken him here alone, no less but he wasn't one to turn down a mystery.
The forest, which he assumed was the Everfree, seemed to be unnaturally shadowed, even though it was nightfall. The plants were overgrown from years of desertion, and the Doctor heard many sounds he couldn't identify.
As fascinating a place it was, the colt was still uncertain why the TARDIS has brought him here until he heard a faint sobbing.
He followed the noise through the trees and bushes until he found the source of the noise: a small grey pegasus filly with blonde hair. When she turned to look at him, he noticed that her right eye lazily pointed up higher than the other.
"Hey, what are you doing here?" the Doctor asked softly. The filly jerked away from him, hiding behind a tree and pointing what appeared to be a bubble wand at him. "Don't be afraid; I'm not going to hurt you. What's your name?"
The filly blinked and sniffled for a few seconds, then spoke with difficulty: "D
The Doctor smiled warmly. "Ditzy Doo? Cute name. I'm the Doctor, and I am going to help you. Do you know where your parents are?"
Ditzy shook her head sadly, beginning to cry again.
"Aw, don't do that. Here, it'll be okay." He pulled out a handkerchief and gave it to her. "Let's get out of the dark, alright?"
Ditzy nodded as she dried her eyes. The Doctor placed her on his back and began to navigate the forest back to the TARDIS. Several times on the way, Ditzy would hear a noise and cling tightly to his back and bury her face in his mane. By the time they reached the blue box, however, she was fast asleep.
He took the TARDIS to the Ponyville orphanage and explained the circumstances to the mare in charge, who gladly agreed to take the filly in for as long as necessary.
Back inside the TARDIS, the Doctor couldn't help but be intrigued by Ditzy. Why would a filly be alone in the Everfree Forest? Surely her parents were worried about her. Wouldn't they have organized a search party by now?
The colt stood up and threw a lever. It was time that he got to the bottom of this.
When the Doctor returned to the orphanage the next day, he was visibly stunned.
The first thing he had discovered was that he was actually about ten years in the past from hen he met Twilight and the girls. The second, more pressing matter was what preceded his discovery of Ditzy.
As he had guessed from her speech impediment, Ditzy had a mental disability. Even with her permanently crossed eyes, it wasn't terribly severe, as she played like any other child in the days before, but it did separate her from other fillies her age since she didn't do well in crowds or in school.
The week had started nicely. Ditzy's mother was baking muffins (Ditzy's favorite food), her father was at work, and the filly herself was patiently waiting for the muffins to be ready. When they were done, her mother invited her to eat as many as she liked, which Ditzy happily did.
Then it all went horribly wrong.
It didn't take the Doctor long to piece together the circumstances of Ditzy's sudden illness, her father's argument with her mother when he returned home, and the subsequent trip to the emergency room which her mother did not participate in. He wanted to be very, very wrong, but the truth stared at him in the face: Ditzy's mother had tried to kill her.
When the filly was released from the hospital, the family celebrated. Even her mother joined in all day, with games and singing and purple muffins (Ditzy's favorite kind).
Seeing them happy made the Doctor hopeful. Maybe her mother had realized that she didn't actually want Ditzy dead. Maybe things would improve.
But the very next day, she had the nerve to do it again.
Watching her bring Ditzy miles away from home just to abandon her in the Everfree forest, distracted by bubbles, brought the Doctor to his knees. Until then, Equestria had been a utopia of peace and harmony, where evil was unheard of.
And then, in the midst of it all, was this picture of utter cruelty, serving as a reminder that even this planet has its dark side.
More than once, the Doctor had wanted to kick that horrible mare square in the jaw, rant at her selfishness, and drop her in a supernova on the farthest side of the universe. Unfortunately, Ditzy's past was fixed in time.
But if her past couldn't be changed, maybe he could guide her future.
As the Doctor entered the orphanage, the staff told him that Ditzy had been distant all morning. Many of the other foals and fillies had tried to approach her, but she remained silent to all of them.
She looked at the Doctor in surprise when he came to her. "Hello, Ditzy. How are you doing?"
The filly shrugged. "Nobody's been mean to you?"
She shook her head "no." "Are you happy here?"
A pause, then another "no."
"Well, you're just lonely, is all. And I've got a friend for you
The colt pulled out a small yellow doll. Ditzy smiled at the sight of it and hugged it tightly, happily squeaking "Sweetie!"
"She's missed you as well," the Doctor laughed, "so I thought I'd bring her to you so you could have a friend."
The Doctor stayed with Ditzy the whole week, playing with her and helping her make friends with the other orphans. The staff was at first puzzled by this; if he cared so much for the pegasus filly, why didn't he just adopt her? When asked, the Doctor simply replied that he didn't have the stable lifestyle she deserved, and he wanted to be sure she was happy before he left her there.
To himself, he admitted there was another reason: despite all that she had been through, despite her mental disability, deep in those crooked eyes, there was an ember of innocence left in her that he couldn't bear to see go out.
On the last day of the week, the Doctor announced that he had hired a therapist to help with Ditzy's condition. "I talked to every doctor from here to Appleloosa," the Doctor explained to her, "This one will help you talk just like everyone else."
Ditzy was very happy, but that joy only lasted until the evening, when the Doctor told that he wouldn't be coming every day anymore.
"It'll be okay, Ditzy," the Doctor said softly as the filly looked at him misty-eyed. "I'll still visit every month, and we can play then." He put a hoof to his chin. "Tell you what: if you promise to be a good little filly while I'm gone, I'll bring purple muffins every time I come. Is that okay?"
Ditzy smiled and nodded. As the colt stepped through the doorway, she ran under his legs and wrapped her front legs around his neck in a tight hug.
"Don't worry, Ditzy," he whispered. "I will come back, and while I'm gone through all of time and space, I'll be thinking of you."
The Doctor proved better than his word, and came to the orphanage no less than three times a month. Wherever he went, he brought back some exotic souvenir to show Ditzy; eventually, all of the orphans looked forward to the tales of his adventures in time and space.
He watched Ditzy slowly grow older, overcoming more and more of her disability to the point where she nearly acted as if nothing had ever been wrong. The therapist told him that one of the first new words she learned to say was "doctor."
According to the orphanage staff, she had taken their promise to heart; they said she was the nicest, happiest little filly they had ever seen. Even so, there were still times when they would find her curled up in her bed, tearfully asking only for the Doctor.
One of the happiest days they had together was in one bright Summer about a year and a half after they had met. Ditzy had bounded up to him as he arrived, excitedly crying, "Doctor! Doctor! Look I got my cutie mark!"
She turned and proudly showed off her mark: a collection of seven bubbles.
It had happened the previous day. One of the other fillies had been trying to balance on a rubber ball and had slipped and hurt themselves. In an effort to cheer her up, Ditzy had started making bubbles; the mark appeared soon after the filly started laughing at the strange shapes she made.
"But does that mean my special talent is bubble making?" she asked as she played checkers with the Doctor, "That's a stupid talent."
"It's not that silly," the Doctor replied. "What would the world be without bubble makers? A lot less fun, that's what."
Ditzy laughed. "But I don't think that's your talent, Ditzy," The colt continued. "What I think your talent is, is making other ponies happy."
The Doctor winked. "Hey, thinking of you makes me happy any day."
"But why bubbles as a cutie mark?"
"Well, bubbles make everyone happy, don't they? And yet, they're so simple. Ponies might look at you and think you're nothing special. But you are so unique, because you've got a big old ball of happiness just waiting to be shared right here." He poked her in the chest, causing her to giggle. Smiling mischievously, he began poking her more. "And here, and here, and here
Ditzy laughed uncontrollably, and the checkers game was forgotten in favor of the ensuing tickle war.
Though the Doctor would later count the days he spent with Ditzy was some of the best of his on Equestria, he knew that one day, Ditzy would need to learn to live on her own, without him teaching and guiding her. His plan had originally been to leave her with whatever family chose her for adoption, but every year she was overlooked. Well, let's give another year, he told himself many times; a family will choose her eventually.
But seven years passed, and she still occupied the same bed in the orphanage. And so, one rainy evening, he swallowed hard, took a deep breath, and told Ditzy he would not be visiting anymore.
He assumed it was easier since she was older now, but that didn't mean it wasn't hard for the both of them. He had practically raised the filly for years now, and he very much didn't want to leave. Ditzy told him she understood why he had to leave and accepted it, but the intense look in her eyes despite their crooked nature almost convinced him to adopt her then and there.
But in the end, goodbyes were said in the light of a candle on the porch outside the orphanage where the TARDIS was parked. Ditzy encased him in a hug tighter than any she had ever given before while the Doctor emphatically assured her that they would meet again.
And so it was that Ditzy tearfully watched the TARDIS disappear for what she desperately hoped would not be the last time.
As Ditzy walked home from her mail route, she caught sight of a reserved table outside a café. The table itself was not notable, but what was placed on it stood out: a purple muffin and an envelope addressed to her.
Ditzy was certain the café didn't serve purple muffins; even Sugarcube Corner didn't until she had given Pinkie Pie the recipe after the pink mare had seen her eating one while delivering the mail. Picking up the envelope, she noticed it was a very familiar shade of blue.
Intrigued, she opened it and read:
Sorry it's been so long. I've been busy lately, but don't think that I've forgotten you.
Unfortunately, I can't visit just yet; there's some trouble on Raxacoricofallapatorius that needs straightening out. In the meantime, I came across a chap who you should know who's missed you for over ten years now. He should be there shortly.
Thinking of you across time and space,
is that you?"
Ditzy looked up to see an old grey pegasus colt; yes, she did know this pony
Immediately, the colt ran to her and hugged her tightly. "Oh, Ditzy, it is you!" He said through is tears. "I've missed you so much, sweetie
Ditzy smiled into her father's mane. Thank you, Doctor. Thank you.