Each Small Step

by Krickis


3 – Things in Need of Repair

Chapter Three

Things in Need of Repair

Of Sunset Shimmer’s many redeeming qualities, one of them was most certainly that she was not Aria Blaze. As such, before showing up to her girlfriend’s house the day after a tense argument, she called ahead to let Aria know she wanted to go over so they could talk.

This was, objectively, for the best. Aria had time to prepare for Sunset’s arrival. She had showered and dressed, and even cleaned the apartment. Well, cleaned it a little anyway. Perhaps she hadn’t really cleaned it enough… It was still a mess, and Sunset was sure to notice that. Why the hell hadn’t she cleaned it better? She’d known all day Sunset was coming, why did she have to be so damn lazy all the –

Aria stopped and took a deep breath. Blaming herself wasn’t helping, and there was still time to do something about it. She went into the kitchen and pulled a trash bag out from the seldom used cabinet beneath her sink. She then walked through the apartment and shoved things into the bag, almost at random.

Before the bag was even filled, there was a knock on the door. “Just a minute!” Aria called, shoving a few more things into the bag before tying it off. It was full enough to go out, she reasoned.

When she opened the door, Sunset was on the other side with a pizza box and two litre of soda dangling in a bag on her wrist. “Special delivery!”

“You didn’t have to do that, I got some groceries yesterday.”

Sunset shrugged as she walked into the apartment. “Yeah, but I figured we could skip worrying about cooking tonight.”

“Well, you won’t hear me complaining.” Aria was about to set the trash bag by the door to be taken out later, but she thought better of it. “Just give me one second to throw this out.”

“No problem.”

Aria walked out of the apartment and down the stairs with the trash. Great, that’s just the image she wanted to greet her girlfriend with. One of these things is garbage and the other is a bag of crap; can you spot the difference?

It was only a short walk to the dumpster, but the whole thing was spent worrying about what Sunset was noticing back in the apartment. By the time she reached it and threw out the bag, she was practically running back to the stairs.

No amount of worry would stop her from walking back inside with a confident strut, though. At least, not until she saw Sunset swapping the futon from a bed to a couch. She’d known Sunset was coming, why hadn’t she done that herself? Now Sunset was going to think she’d spent the whole day in bed, which, to be fair, was something she did a lot… But it wasn’t something she’d done that day!

Sunset was oblivious to her concerns. “Can you get us some plates and cups?”

Despite everything, Aria managed a grin. “Yeah, coming right up.”

At least paper plates and plastic cups were typical for pizza dinner, so she didn’t feel bad when that was what she grabbed. Not that it would’ve mattered if they were eating something else. Aria knew better than to expect herself to do dishes.

Aria handed Sunset a plate and a cup as she sat down, and in return, Sunset placed a slice of pizza onto Aria’s plate, then filled their cups. “The apartment looks really good.”

It did? It was a lot cleaner than it was, but there was still so much to do.“Yeah, well, it’s not a big deal or anything.” Aria took a drink to hide her smile.

Sunset didn’t try to hide hers, however. Even more than her words, her smile made Aria feel that maybe she did something right for once.

“How’d everything go at the studio?” Sunset asked just before taking a bite of pizza.

“It was okay.” Aria frowned at her own slice rather than taking a bite of it. She’d been worried about telling Sunset the next part. “The pay’s decent, but it’s only a few hours a night. I won’t be making as much as my last job.”

“At least it’s something, right? It’ll help out a lot while we figure something else out.”

Sunset sounded optimistic, so Aria smiled. “Yeah. And since Adagio works in the mornings, I won’t wind up seeing her much.”

“Nice. I’m sure things will go well.”

Aria finally took her first bite of pizza. It was topped with seafood, her favorite. That reminded her of their talk the other night. “Guess we never got to go to the beach this weekend.”

“No, but oh well. Another time.”

“Maybe we can go next weekend?”

Sunset smirked. “Since when are you the one to make plans?”

Aria’s impulse was to shoot back a snippy reply, but she pushed it down. “I like the beach, but I haven’t been in ages.”

“Sure, we can go next weekend.”

It was nice to have plans. On top of the fact that Aria really did enjoy the beach, it was comforting to have something planned in the future with Sunset. After the last couple days, she hadn’t been entirely sure where they were headed. Even if it was only a week out, it was good to know Sunset still planned to be there for that week.

They talked about what Sunset had been up to the past couple days as they ate. When Sunset had said she wanted to come by to talk, Aria hadn’t expected it to be about anything so mundane.

Of course, it would be foolish to assume that was all Sunset wanted to talk about. They had both eaten a couple slices of pizza and set the rest aside for later by the time they got to a more weighty topic, but it came all the same.

“I’ve been thinking,” Sunset said.

Aria wasn’t sure she liked Sunset’s tone. “Oh yeah?”

Sunset fidgeted in place awkwardly. “I care about you a lot, and I know how hard things are for you. I wish I could make it easier, but I’m not sure how.”

“You do though,” Aria answered far too quickly. She was terrified of where Sunset might be going, and she desperately wanted to keep the conversation from getting there. “I know I’m not good at, you know, saying it. And I know I can be a real bitch to you, but… You help a lot.”

Sunset’s hand found hers. “I’m glad I can help, but I don’t think I can really do enough for you. Which is why I think you should go to therapy.”

Oh. That wasn’t where Aria had thought this was going. “I… you know I can’t afford that.”

“I know, but I’ve been looking into it. I found somewhere that’ll work with your income, and I’ll help cover anything they don’t.”

“I can’t ask you to do that. Besides, I know I’m kind of a mess, but I really don’t think I need to see some shrink or whatever.”

“Aria, you’ve… got some things going on that neither of us know what to do with. It’s just a matter of going to talk to someone who understands that kind of stuff and can help you understand it. And you don’t have to ask, I’m offering.”

Aria didn’t answer. She wanted to answer, wanted to say something, either yes or no. But no words came out, and Sunset didn’t try to force them.

Instead, Sunset stretched out on the couch and rested her head in Aria’s lap. She lay quietly as Aria stroked her hair, and the idea slowly sunk in.

“Okay. I’ll do it.”

Without getting up, Sunset reached her arms around Aria. “You know, you won’t be doing it alone. I want to be with you, for every step of the way.”

Aria was glad Sunset couldn’t see her. The last thing she needed was for her girlfriend to see her fighting back tears. “Yeah, I guess I could let you hang with me some more.”

Sunset chuckled, and Aria knew she could leave it at that. She knew it, but it didn’t feel right. “I… I love you, Sunset.”

Sunset rolled onto her back to look up at Aria. When she smiled, Aria found it even harder to hold the tears back. “I love you too.”

“Sunset?”

“Yeah?”

“Please don’t give up on me.”

Sunset reached her hand up to caress Aria’s cheek. “Never.”

There were a lot of hardships still to come. Aria knew that. But even if she walked the road towards getting better slowly, she didn’t walk it alone. As long as she had Sunset by her side, Aria knew that each small step would always carry her forward.

Besides, as it turned out, having Sunset around to comfort her while she cried wasn’t so bad after all.