Through a Mirror, Lovely

by Two Bit


Sunset Shimmer pulled her leather jacket tighter in the cool air of early fall. The leaves hadn't started changing color yet, but the taste was in the air. She had finished proofing everything and submitted her recommendations to the head of the Yearbook Club. Now she could finally go home, watch some dumb videos on the internet, and get some sleep.

As she walked down the front steps of Canterlot High School, she saw a strange light forming at the base of the old horse statue. Her curiosity getting the better of her, she creeped closer to the light. It was moving like some sort of swirling vortex. Crazy! Without thinking, she pulled out her phone, opening the camera app to record what she was seeing.

Sunset wouldn't have expected anything more unbelievable could happen after that. Then something... someone started to emerge from the swirling light. It somehow got stranger than that. The person who came out the portal... was her!

She stopped recording, just wanting to run. Except as much as she wanted to get away from this bizarre waking dream, her copy wasn't looking too good. She had collapsed immediately to the ground, and from what Sunset could make out, she looked like she had been in some sort of a fight. Science fiction told her that this might be a version of her from a not-too-distant future.

It wasn't really much of an idea. As she crept closer, she saw the other her was wearing what looked like some foreign school uniform. Her injuries didn't really look end-of-the-world bad. More like she had picked a fight with a couple of older boys. Wouldn't have been the first time...

"Er... Hello? Are you..." She frowned, looking back towards the school. Maybe she should really just go inside and call the police or something. There would probably be a lot of questions about how she had a brand new twin, and she wasn't sure she could explain them all.

She nudged the girl on the ground gently with a foot. She felt solid, and the moan provoked sounded real enough. "Hey, are you okay? You look like you just got tossed out of a bar." Not that she knew anything about that.

The copy groaned, rolling onto her front. "Royal guards... They're not as tough as they look." The girl looked up and Sunset saw something in her expression, something she hadn't expected to see until she got home and looked at herself in the mirror. It was the weariness that always came after working hard to improve herself. The searching to see if her efforts had borne fruit. Whatever this double was hoping to find, she clearly hadn't. "No! It didn't work! Why didn't it..."

Sunset was more than a little freaked out. Not only had an exact duplicate of her just emerged from a stone statue, the duplicate was apparently a little hysterical. "Hey, calm down." She crouched down, though didn't get all the way to her knees in case she had to pop back up and run. "What's going on?"

The girl just shook her head. "I was supposed to be an Alicorn!" She tried to get up, but seemed to be struggling to use her hands. "What happened to me? I feel so week, and nothing feels right. What's..." She lifted a hand to her face, eyes going wide. "Oh Celestia, what have I become?"

"I don't know what you're talking about. But at the very least, it kinda looks like you've become... me?"

The girl's eyes locked on her, and they both jumped. Sunset fell back as her new twin sat up. "What in the realm of Equestria are you? You've got my voice... my eyes, but... that face, those ears... Mane’s more or less the same. Why are your limbs so long?"

Sunset scrambled to her feet, pulling her jacket tighter. "What else would I look like? Don't turn this around on me, you're the one copying me!" She glanced down, sighed, then offered her hand. "Here, let me help you... me... whatever."

The girl seemed to hesitate. She lifted a hand uncertainly, watching it with confusion and perhaps a little revulsion. Sunset almost took her own away at seeing this, but she didn't really have the time to consider it. With a little effort, her double uncurled her fingers and grabbed the offered hand.

Sunset hoisted her up, not letting go until the girl had managed to keep steady on two feet. "If you don't like what you see, maybe you should go right back to whatever alien planet you came from so you can stop being me." She glanced over the other her's shoulder at the base of the statue, which just looked like solid rock.

"I... can't," she muttered, glancing down. "They'll lock me up for treason, throw me in the dungeons." She started shivering, and Sunset realized her outfit didn't have very good sleeves.

"Really? That sucks," she commented as she slipped off her leather jacket. She had just gotten an idea, but she would need to find the right words to convince this other Sunset. "Still don't know how much of this is real... You seem to think that I look like you, but—"

"You do look like me," the double interrupted, her eyes widening in a way that was more than a little disconcerting. If Sunset knew herself well enough, that expression was one of scheming.

Sunset put her jacket around the double's shoulders, continuing before she could get any other ideas. "Look, it's late. Why don't you come home with me tonight? I can give you a place to sleep for the night. Then we can discuss... what to do about you."

The girl pulled the jacket a little tighter, thinking for a moment. Then she nodded, smirking just a little. "Sure."

Sunset opened the door to her house slowly, peeking inside to see if her parents were around. She knew her father would be at work already, but she could never be sure if her mother would be up or not. Depended how badly things went at the office. The lights were still on, but it seemed the coast was clear for the moment. "Alright, move, quickly." She gestured to her strange twin, who stumbled inside from the bushes. Whatever had happened to the girl, she was still unsteady on her feet.

"I didn't come to this world just to keep taking orders from strange-shaped ponies," the other girl muttered as she passed Sunset. Of course, despite her constant protests, she had been generally cooperative. Sunset supposed if there was one person she could trust...

"Do I look like a pony to you, idiot? I'm a person." She sighed, closing the door as quietly as she could. "And keep your voice down, we don't want my mom to catch us." She pushed herself gently from behind, in the direction of her room.

"You still live with your parents? Are you... Are we fillies?"

Sunset really wished she would stop talking like a horse. She didn't care what strange shapeshifting alien she was letting share her appearance, she hated hearing weird stuff like that from her own mouth. "We're kids, yeah. And no, I don't mean the goat kind. Human children. Honestly, how did you expect to blend in on this planet without doing a little research?"

The other Sunset glared back at her. "This isn't at all what it was supposed to be. Celestia must have lied to me, or changed what the mirror did."

That caught Sunset's attention. Not for anything her copy was trying to say, but because of the name she mentioned. Was Principal Celestia some kind of alien doppelganger too? If so, she was doing a much better job than the one in front of her that was apparently trying to replace her.

Her room was a mess like always, and she went in ahead of her twin to clean it up before she embarrassed herself. The other girl just stood outside the door uselessly, holding her hands up in front of her. "What, do you have tentacles or something in your natural form?" she asked as she tried to inconspicuously tuck her dirty laundry into her closet.

"Hooves," the girl answered without even looking.

"Right, of course, the horse thing." Horse aliens. Sunset would need to remember that one. It just figured considering the obsession with horses in this town. Maybe that's why they were coming here.

Before she had finished getting her room ready, she heard footsteps from down the hall. Her chest tightened, and she whipped around to look at the door. "Quick, get in here," she hissed at the other her.

"Oh Sunset, you're home," she heard her mom say.

The other girl turned. For Sunset, everything seemed like it was happening in slow motion. Everything would be blown and she'd end up making her mom crazy and be brought with the alien to some government facility where they would determine what made her worth copying and how they were linked. She watched as the duplicate opened her mouth to answer. With how disoriented she had been about everything, Sunset just knew she would say something dumb. She had to stop her!

"Don't say anything!" She reached out and grabbed the other's arm, pulling her into the room.

"Sunset?" her mom called. "Is there someone in there with you?"

"Nice going, idiot!" Her duplicate rolled her eyes.

"Crap, I didn't think..." Sunset whimpered, starting to panic. There was literally no way to explain something like this away. "What are we gonna do? We can't let her see you!"

The other girl just smiled confidently. "Follow my lead."

Sunset opened her mouth, but before she could get any words out another mouth was covering hers. Her own mouth. Sunset's eyes widened, and she started to pull away, but the other girl pushed her halfway onto the bed, laying on top of her without ever breaking the kiss. The girl's mouth moved about hers in odd ways, nothing like what she had seen or read about for kissing.

It was strangely effective. Sunset found herself thinking less about who was kissing her and more about the way it felt. The hot breath on her face, the weight of someone resting on top of her.

She had never been interested in making friends, let alone dating. She had never realized it could feel this good.

Sunset heard her mother, but it seemed distant, not a part of this new sensory experience. Then the kiss was broken and she was met with a face-full of red and yellow hair. "He-"

"Sorry, Mom. I didn't know you were here," the other her said, and Sunset shivered just a little despite the warmth of her body on top of her. Maybe she wasn't such a bad duplicate after all.

"No no, don't let me stop you. I'll get out of your hair. Goodness knows that I'm happy to see you showing an interest in people. Your father and I-" Sunset realized that her mother couldn't see her under her doppelganger's body, face obscured by her long hair.


"Right, sorry, I'm just going to grab some wine and I'll be in my room the rest of the evening. Have fun, you two." Sunset heard footsteps, before the girl got off of her and quickly went to shut the door.

"Well that... worked," Sunset muttered, her face burning. Kissing herself hadn't been something she ever expected to do in her life, but now that she had... She couldn't imagine anyone else she would have even wanted to. There was something that felt wrong about that, though she couldn't fully form the reason coherently. Was it like kissing a sister? Or more like playing with herself...

"Yeah, was sure weird though. Have you ever kissed before?"

Sunset blinked. What kind of question was that? "Me? Y-yeah, sure I have! Why wouldn't I?"

The other girl shrugged. "Felt like I was doing all the work. Guess it's just the way your mouths are shaped."

Sunset glared, but didn't dare say anything to defend herself. In fact, she knew if this conversation kept up, it would lead to more embarrassment... and more desires she didn't want to acknowledge anymore. "Sure. Look, I'm not just gonna let you hide out in my house... and on my planet for free. I've got a bit of a... cultural exchange idea for you?"

The other girl leaned against the door, raising an eyebrow skeptically. It was really creepy when she acted like her. "Go on, filly."

"I'm not-" Sunset held her hands out shaking her head. She took a deep breath before continuing. "You know what, nevermind. If we're really the same person, we should be able to get along."

"That would be a change from every other relationship I've ever had. Even with the one pony I thought cared about me..."

Sunset reflected the sadness on the other girl's face, thinking about how hard she had worked to get people to like her, and none of them ever noticing her achievements. "Yeah..." She felt herself blushing again as she looked over her twin. It was like looking into a mirror, for sure. But a mirror that could actually understand her, had felt all the same pains she had.

"You were saying something about an idea?" the other girl said, interrupting Sunset's thoughts.

"Huh? Oh, right, yeah. Well, you need a place to hide out from the people after you, right? Well, I can provide that. Plus I've got the perfect way for you to learn how to fit into this world. You'll swap places with me!"

"We... will?"

"Well, I'm swapping out and you're swapping in. You'll go to school in my place, where you can learn all about my world. It's so boring for me, but for you the stuff they teach should actually be new."

"Makes sense. Replacing you is the best way to go unnoticed in this world. What do you get out of it?"

"My freedom!" Sunset replied enthusiastically, getting excited that her idea might actually work. Without dealing with school, she could learn about things she actually cared about and spend her time how she wanted. No waiting four more years for college just to be able to study what she wanted. "I'll be able to do whatever I want during the day."

"I can sympathize... but aren't people going to notice if there's two of me running around?"

"Two of... me," Sunset muttered. "But you're right. I suppose... A little makeup, a new hairstyle and some dye, maybe a pair of glasses? As for why you're around all the time... Well, my mom already thinks you're my... g-girlfriend." Sunset rubbed her arm nervously, her cheeks warming up again.

The other girl was silent for a moment. Then she started slowly, "Actually... Your mom thinks that you are my girlfriend."

"Huh?" Sunset looked up confused. Though she was also getting wary of the word girlfriend, as though saying it more would make it real. "What do you... mean by that?"

"Well, you weren't the one that kissed me, now were you."

Sunset glared as harshly as she glared at anyone, her ears burning now.

"Anyways, it makes sense. If I'm going to be taking care of all your responsibilities in your place, people should think I'm really you. So, you're the one who should get a disguise and be my girlfriend." The other girl folded her arms, smirking confidently.

Sunset could just punch that beautiful smug face. "Alright, you're right. But we can talk details tomorrow. I've been working all night and I'm exhausted. Not to mention dealing with you."

"Sounds good to me, I spent all of last night raiding the dark magic section of the library."

Sunset opened her mouth, but thought better of trying to decipher what her double meant. She would have lots of time to figure her out. While pretending to be her girlfriend. Sunset felt a shiver she wasn't sure was from fear or excitement.

Sunset returned to her room, refreshed from a shower and all dressed in her pajamas, ready for bed. She had taken a little longer than usual, just trying to sort out what had happened the last couple of hours. She had been willing to accept an alien had come to earth and duplicated her appearance. It wasn't realistic, but she had accepted the evidence in front of her. The horse stuff was a little weird, but how could she judge an alien race?

Of course, the plan they had come up with was what she had really needed to come to terms with. Well, it had been just her plan, but the alien had somehow turned it around on her. She had never even dated before, and now she was going to pretend to be a girlfriend... to herself? At least it wasn't a real relationship. "As long as she doesn't kiss me again, I can handle it," she told herself.

Walking into her room, she found her double laying on the bed completely nude.

"What the hell are you doing?" she hissed, closing the door as quickly as she could without slamming it.

The other Sunset glanced up from the book she was reading, something she had grabbed off the shelf near the bed. "What? You said I could look at whatever I wanted while you were in the shower."

"Not that!" Sunset said, growing more distressed. "Your whole... you!" She gestured vaguely at the naked girl, trying to keep looking away. "Where are your clothes?"

"On the floor... in the corner there. Why are you so worked up? You said we were going to bed, so I got ready while you were gone. Why is that so..." She trailed off, and Sunset risked a glance to see what she was doing. It looked like she was studying her pajamas. "Huh. I noticed your species had an obsession with fashion, but I didn't think that would carry over to when you were alone. Who's going to see you wear that?"

"Fashion? That's not... This isn't..." Sunset made a frustrated groan. "Do you want to learn what's normal for humans or not?"

"Not when it doesn't matter. Your sleeping rituals aren't going to help me blend in." She closed the book, tossing it back to the shelf. Then she rolled to face Sunset, much to her discomfort. "What are you so scared of? This is literally your body, isn't it?"

Sunset couldn't help her curiosity. She looked. The body was indeed exactly as she saw looking into the mirror after taking a shower. Although, without being reversed there was a weird disconnect to it. Still, everything was there, even the details no one else knew about, like that collection of freckles right next to her...

"It's still weird!" she protested, though not with terribly much conviction. It was hard to feel confident staring at someone naked.

"Well, I'm not going to sleep in discomfort, so either you drop it and join me, or you sleep somewhere else."

Sunset glared. She couldn't believe she was getting ultimatums from some naked copy of her, in her own house! Still, she knew it would be even more awkward to try to force her into complying. And she wasn't about to be kicked out of her own room to go sleep on the couch. Sunset could bear some embarrassment to maintain her dignity. Besides, she couldn't exactly say the sight of her own naked body was repulsive. She admired herself in the mirror every day for a reason.

She climbed into the bed defiantly, slipping under the covers and facing away from her twin. "Alright, fine, do what you want. Just... don't get too close."

She felt the other Sunset pull the sheets over her as well. That was concerning, but she seemed to be sticking to her side of the bed.

For the first time, Sunset fell asleep with someone else sharing her bed. The circumstances were strange, and she felt embarrassed and confused. Even so, she fell asleep with the thoughts of how nice it was just to have someone nearby.

The next day, Sunset was out of the house as quick as she could be, her double in tow. However awkward the previous night had been, the alien had at least agreed to put her clothes back on to go out.

They would be skipping school today so they could prepare for the swap. Their first stop was the barber, so they could spend as little time as possible running around town looking identical. Sunset had given it a little thought, and decided on a style she had seen in a magazine once. She had thought it was super cute on the girl wearing it, so it seemed a perfect fit for her own girlfriend.

Sunset watched as her hair was cut short enough to see her ears, and her red and yellow stripes were dyed to a single midnight blue. It was a strange feeling, watching the hair she'd had her whole life transformed in the course of a couple hours to something completely unrecognizable.

When she emerged from the barber, the other Sunset was there to greet her at the door. Sunset felt just a little envy in her gut watching the blonde and red hair bounce behind her head. She was sure she would get used to it, but...

"Looks nice," the girl said, smiling. Sunset wasn't sure she had ever seen her smile like that, with warmth instead of cynicism. She wasn't sure she had ever smiled like that.

It made her smile now. "Th-thanks. The important part is no one recognizes me."

The other girl pulled something out, a pair of glasses. "Here, this should help." Sunset slipped them on. There was just glass in the frame. She wondered how her double had managed to buy a pair of glasses without lenses. Where had she even gotten the money? "Perfect!" Her double pointed her toward the glass of a closed up store, where she could see her own reflection.

Even knowing what she had just sat through, her eyes looked on her double's reflection first, and her brain couldn't figure out why it wasn't moving right. Then she realized she was being stupid and she looked straight ahead. Standing next to her- no. She was standing there--even with no makeup she looked so different. The big nerdy glasses, the short and practical dark hair... Sunset blushed and looked back to the other figure in the reflection. She was looking at her, too. Sunset wondered if an alien even noticed the differences.

"Well?" she asked, feeling some of her confidence waver. It was amazing how little she even felt like herself next to a copy that had everything she had just lost. It'll all be worth it, Sunset. This is only going to make it easier to have all the freedom you want. She told herself that, but she knew it was coming at the cost of recognition for any work she did. But maybe that was okay. There was still one person who's opinion she could get. And it happened to be from the person whose opinion mattered to her the most, or at least close enough. "How do I look?"

"For a strange fleshy alien?" The girl turned to really look at her, and Sunset followed, looking into her eyes. Her own eyes. Then she kissed her again. This time there was no urgency, no one they were trying to hide from. Whatever Sunset had done, she had earned this one.

She spent the rest of the day showing the other Sunset around town, teaching her about the various aspects of everyday life. Sunset could tell the other girl was getting bored with language and lessons on technology, though. She finally admitted it as they finished a quick dinner at the shake shop.

"So, what does somepo-" Sunset glared at her sternly, and the girl giggled nervously. "I--I mean, somebody. What does somebody do around here for fun? You have to know, Moonrise." The girl had insisted on calling her a new name to match her disguise, something Sunset had resisted at first, but was willing to concede the utility of.

"What? Why would I know?"

"Because... you live here? And you're me. You've gotta know how to have fun. Like that place you showed me at the mall. Except... staring at screens sounds lame." She made a dismissive hand gesture, which Sunset felt a little pride at teaching her. "This is your town, and I'm your girlfriend. Where are you going to take me to show me a good time?" The girl leaned forward with a smile that gave Sunset all sorts of ideas.

But she wasn't confident enough for any of those. "The--the fair!" she exclaimed before sipping from her milkshake nervously.

"A fair? You impress girls by taking them to see a bunch of country bumpkins show off?" She leaned back, all trace of interest gone. Sunset briefly wondered if that meant in her, too.

"Not like that!" she defended. "It's by the lake. It's more of a carnival, but they call it the Harvest Fair. I guess it used to be a farmer thing, but no one cares about the dumb stuff they do during the day." Sunset smiled as she saw the curiosity return to her twin's face. More than that, she seemed to like whenever Sunset asserted herself. "At night, there's rides and games, and couples will sneak off to the lake and--" She stopped, blushing. "Well, I think we'll be occupied enough just showing you the other stuff."

The other Sunset grinned. "Sure sure. I'm sure you're right." She glanced outside, at the moon rising on the horizon. She seemed to double take, examining it for longer than Sunset would've thought necessary. Then she shrugged and continued. "I'm ready when you are."

Sunset could tell the girl expected something more from her, but when they arrived, she proved to be right. The alien was awed by the lights and sounds and smells and... everything, as far as Sunset could tell. They started with the games, but the other Sunset grew less impressed with those the longer they kept losing. Of course, she had to try some different food between each one, and Sunset worried she was going to get sick.

Especially once her boredom culminated in her wanting to try to roller coaster. It wasn't much of one, or else Sunset was sure her double would have thrown up all over herself. Just a few hills as it rode around the perimeter of the fair. Still, she seemed to enjoy it. And Sunset had to stop her from going on it again despite how green she was looking.

Instead, Sunset took her to ride on the Ferris wheel to rest. "This place is amazing," the girl said as they started to rise. "I can't believe you can make something like this in a world without magic."

"I showed you cars and computers, and you think some local fair is what's amazing?" Sunset rolled her eyes. Whatever world this version of her came from, it seemed filled with contradictions.

"A box you stare at for information and entertainment is stupidly boring. And you said we weren't old enough to drive those carriages, so what's the point?" Sunset couldn't come up with a good argument, especially as her thoughts were interrupted by the other girl slipping sideways to lean against her, head on her shoulder with eyes closed.

Hopefully she's settling her stomach, Sunset thought, even as she blushed at the position they were now in. But it's not like this wasn't the whole point of her disguise. She was Sunset's girlfriend. Or... pretending to be the other Sunset's girlfriend. She put her arms around the girl nervously. When she didn't protest, Sunset let herself enjoy the closeness.

"But this place is so active, there's so much to do! It's like somepony filled it with magic without a single spell. I don't know if I'll really learn to be an Alicorn here, but... at least there's something here that no one from my world has ever experienced before. Magic without magic."

As they approached the top of the wheel, Sunset felt the girl start to shiver, even in her arms. She was still wearing the ridiculous uniform Sunset had found her in, with not nearly enough material where it mattered, on the arms and legs. She couldn't do much about the legs, but... "Here, uh... Sunset." She carefully separated herself from the girl so she could take her jacket off. Then she put it around the other Sunset's shoulders.

The girl looked to her, smiling that infectious smile. Or was it only that way because they were the same person? "Thanks, Moonrise," she said, before leaning in for another kiss. The more she did it, the more Sunset enjoyed it. This time she even managed to reciprocate.

Still, when they broke, she had a question on her mind. "Why do you keep doing that?"

"Kissing you? Because you're young and cute, and you remind me of myself when I was a filly."

"I am you," Sunset muttered, a little annoyance in her tone. She managed to resist correcting her on using the word "filly" though. Now wasn't the time.

"Exactly. I remember what it was like at your age. Trying to figure yourself out, prove to everyone that you could do anything you set your mind to." Sunset found herself nodding along. "All I really needed was someone, just one pony to encourage me. I got that eventually, but... even she didn't see my true potential." The girl's gaze grew distant a moment, before refocusing on Sunset's eyes. "But I see yours, and I want you to know that."

"But kissing..."

"Is a pleasant way of communicating that commitment. Besides, like I said, you're cute."

Sunset's cheeks burned. "Even though I'm just a long fleshy alien?"

She shrugged. "I think I'm acquiring a taste."

They kissed again.

The next week went by like a whirlwind. "Moonrise" was free to spend the days how she pleased while Sunset took her place at school. There was only minimal incident stemming from the day off they had taken, but as far as she had heard Sunset had handled it masterfully. The plan had worked exactly as they had hoped.

There was only a single hitch. Each day started feeling longer and longer for Moonrise, as she spent more and more of it anticipating what she was going to do with her girlfriend. A nice dinner, a trip to Sweet Apple Acres for some apple picking, getting an early start on Halloween decorations... Simple things, but somehow the most fun she had ever had.

Every night they would stay up telling each other stories about their worlds, until they got too tired to talk and just snuggled and made-out. Moonrise was even starting to get comfortable with the fact the other girl slept nude. For all her quirks, having a girlfriend was the best thing that had ever happened to her.

Today, she couldn't even wait for Sunset to meet her at the mall like usual. She stood outside the doors of Canterlot High, right next to the statue this had all started with. According to her girlfriend, it would be closing today, meaning she would be safe from her world for another few years. Moonrise had stopped thinking of her as a copy of herself since they had realized they weren't just pretending to date. She was grateful she had a "secret identity" she could slip into when she was around Sunset to make things less confusing. She still thought of herself as Sunset Shimmer, but now she was also Moonrise, Sunset's girlfriend.

She saw Sunset emerge from the building, a group of people crowded around her. She didn't recognize any of them. Were they classmates? Most of them looked like upperclassmen. She caught sight of Sunset's eyes and waved, a little relief washing over her when the girl smiled and waved back. Not that she had any reason to be worried. Just because Sunset had made a bunch of friends didn't mean she would stop liking her.

"I'll see you guys tomorrow," she said to the group of people as they dispersed, before turning to her again. "Hey Moonrise!" She met her for a hug and kiss before continuing. "What are you doing here? Everything going okay?"

"Everything's fine! I just couldn't wait to see you..." Now that she was saying it out loud, she felt pretty lame about it. She decided to change the subject before either of them could dwell on it. "Who were all those people? I've never had that many friends."

Sunset smiled. "Oh, don't be too hard on yourself about that. Friendship comes second nature to ponies. I've never seen the point, but I can use lots of the same skills to get popular. And I figured out popularity means power in this place. Your school doesn't stand a chance with me around."

Moonrise grinned. "Really? That's awesome. You have to teach me how you did it. I've been trying to impress the people in my class for ages."

"Don't worry, I've got ya covered, Moon." Sunset ran a hand through her blue hair before kissing her again. "I can teach you anything about friendship." She put an arm around her, walking with her down the sidewalk and away from the school. "You'll be winning people over in no time. And once you've got 'em on your side, you'll be amazed at the things you can get them to do just because you're 'friends.'"

She was about to respond, when someone else spoke up behind them. "Sunset Shimmer?"

"Yes?" they answered at the same time. Sunset gave her a playful glare before they both turned around. "I'm Sunset," her girlfriend continued.

There were two guys standing there, only a few years older than the both of them. They both had blue hair, though one had more tones and was taller than the other. What was stranger was that they were both wearing military uniforms that looked nothing like any branch she knew. "By order of Princess Celestia, we're here to bring you back to Equestria to face trial for treason.

She felt Sunset's grip tighten on her arm, and glancing over she saw the fear on her face. "N-no," she whispered. "No, not now... I was so close."

The men stepped forward and Sunset took a step back, looking like she was about to run. Instead, Moonrise stepped in front of her. "Wait! She's not the one you're looking for." She saw their disbelief, and the way they adjusted to move past her. She didn't let it deter her. She pulled off her glasses and lifted her bangs, trying to give them a look at her hair's natural roots. "I'm the real Sunset Shimmer. She's just my double from this world. She's been helping me, but... she's innocent and doesn't have any ties to Equestria."

Sunset tried to push her out of the way. "Moon, what are you..."

"Stop. You don't have to protect my disguise anymore." She looked into Sunset's eyes, nodding reassuringly. "I can take care of myself, and... I think there's not as much for me here as I thought."

She felt a harsh grip on her arm. "Alright, Sunset, come with us. We've got a hearing with Princess Celestia to decide your punishment."

They pulled her a few paces away, toward the statue. She complied at first, until her hand slipped out of Sunset's. "W-wait!"

"What now?" the older one asked harshly.

"I just... Can I say goodbye to her properly? I won't run, I promise." She looked up at them with as sympathetic an expression as she could manage. The genuine tears forming in her eyes didn't hurt her cause either.

"Alright, but make it quick. And if you do run, I assure you that you will not be standing when you meet with the princess."

She nodded quickly, before running back to Sunset and embracing her. The girl kissed her passionately, but she could tell she was holding back a little. "Don't do this, Moon... Sunset," she whispered, so the officers wouldn't hear. "We can run. If they're from Equestria, they won't be as good on two legs as we are. Or..."

Sunset, the human Sunset, shook her head, smiling softly. "If that princess of yours is half as insightful as Principal Celestia, she'll realize I'm not you and let me go. In the meantime, I'll have bought you the time you need. Just stay away. I doubt they’ll risk sending anyone to get you if the portal closes tonight."

"But that means you might--"

Sunset silenced her double with a kiss. She resisted at first, but soon relaxed. It wasn't until one of the officers told them to hurry up that they broke apart. "Wait for me," she whispered, taking off her jacket and wrapping it around the girl's shoulders.

"I will... Sunset," her twin responded, tugging the jacket tight around herself.

Sunset smiled, even as she walked toward the men. Even as each one took her harshly by an arm. Even as they pulled her through what should've been concrete. Even as her whole world faded away.

Sunset watched from the roof of Canterlot High. No one checked the library at night, and the access through the domed skylight provided the perfect spot to safely observe the portal. It got later and later, though she had nowhere better to be. Nothing came back through the portal. Not the guards Celestia had sent for her, or the human that had taken her place.

As she finally gave up her watch and returned to the ground, she passed by the statue. A hand on the side confirmed the portal was closed. She wondered how long 30 moons took in this world, where its movement wasn't controlled by any being of power. "Good luck," she whispered, as much to herself as anyone. Then she walked home.

Years later, Sunset sat in the food court at the mall, surrounded by her friends. It had been a long journey to get here, having almost lost herself to her quest for power. Thankfully she had been shown the right way and forgiven. Now she no longer felt alone and out of place.

She wrote in her journal, reporting on the latest magical activity, while her friends debated the merits of form or function when it came to clothing. Of course, Rainbow and AJ were on one side of that debate, while Rarity was on the other with only Fluttershy to back her up. Pinkie Pie was being Pinkie Pie and cheering on both sides.

Sunset glanced over as her phone vibrated. It was a message from Twilight. "Tell the girls sorry for being late. Met someone at school who wanted to meet you."

"Oooooh! I wonder who that is? Is it a secret admirer?" Pinkie Pie squealed.

Sunset jumped back from her sudden proximity, snatching up her phone. "Pinkie! Don't do that!"

"Yes, Pinkie," Rarity said. "Hasn't anyone ever told you that it's rude to spy on other people's phones?"

"I wasn't spying..." Pinkie answered with a pout.

"So what's up, Sun-Shim?" Rainbow asked.

Sunset let out a breath. "It isn't that big a deal. Twi's just gonna be a little late. Apparently she's bringing someone who wants to meet me."

Her friends continued to speculate who it might be, and Sunset let them amuse themselves. She was sure it was nothing. After all, she wasn't exactly unknown in town. There could be any number of reasons someone would want to see her.

Luckily they didn't have to wait long. Twilight arrived minutes later, with another girl in tow behind her. Sunset couldn't quite get a good look at her from where she was sitting. "Hey, sorry again for being late," Twilight said, adjusting her glasses.

"Aw shucks, it's no problem, Twi. We're just all eager t'see who ya brought with you.

Twilight perked up, smiling. "Right!" She turned, putting a hand on the girl's back to guide her forward. She was looking down shyly, but Sunset could make out some features now. The golden skin, the short blue hair...

It can't be, Sunset thought.

"Everyone, this is Moonrise."

Sunset looked up. Sunset smiled.