by Tungul

Chapter 4 Part 2

Twilight’s Friendship Journal contained a great many stories about herself and her friends. Some were very entertaining, some were very insightful, and some made Sunset Shimmer very concerned for her friend. 

“I swear, this girl needs a good therapist,” she muttered to herself, as she finished the latest chapter. She took a sip from her tea cup. “Having a mental breakdown, about being potentially tardy with the Princess, is not the behavior of a healthy mind…”

‘Hah! A great suggestion! You should find one for yourself while you’re at it!’

Sunset almost choked on her tea as she heard the familiar voice echoing through her mind. Setting aside her cup, she looked up towards the Crystal Mirror and grimaced. Her reflection had once again been replaced with the annoying demon.

“What do you want this time?” Sunset rolled her eyes. “I’m not going back to being like you, no matter what you say. And for your information, I didn’t release… most of the stuff I had. So fuck you.”

‘I saw,’ The Demon smirked. ‘As half assed as it was, the revenge felt sweet. Good job, Sunny.’

 “No,” Sunset replied flatly. “It was a stupid idea and we both know it. Just about everything I've done since this all started has been stupid. A kind of stupid I thought I had outgrown at this point."

'Oh Sunny…' The Demon shook her head, grinning. 'You can't deny your own nature. Wind blows, rain falls, and you make stupid decisions when you're mad; it's simply how things are.' 

"Oh yeah?" Sunset shot back. "Well here's a stupid decision I'll never make, no matter how mad I get: become you again. Now begone, I want to read." 

‘Sunny, Sunny, Sunny…’ The Demon sighed. ‘I'm a part of you. I can never be gone.’

"Well then do me a favor and shut up anyway." 

The clip-clopping sound of hooves on crystal floor interrupted their witty exchange. Sunset and the Demon glanced towards the library door and then back at each other.

‘Are you expecting visitors?’

“You’re a part of my psyche, you should already know that I don’t.”

‘You don’t quite get how this whole conversation thing works, do you?’ The Demon raised an eyebrow.

“Shut up, someone’s coming!”

“Sunset? Sunset Shimmer? Darling, are you in here?” A voice called out. Feminine, cultured, with just a tinge of an affected Canterlot accent. It sounded like Rarity.

“Over here!” Sunset replied and sighed quietly. So much for spending the day alone with her book. Still, after reading all those stories about them, she had become a bit curious to get to know them personally. So she wasn’t too upset at this opportunity to find out what Pony Rarity was like.

‘Crazy,’ The Demon said, grinning at Sunset. ‘That’s what she’ll be like.’

Sunset didn’t dignify that with a response and merely send a withering glare at the Demon.

‘Awww, come on, Sunny, you know I’m right.’ The Demon’s grin only grew wider, however. ‘We’re what? A quarter through the book? And each of those mares had at least one mental breakdown by now. As Twilight so accurately put it in that first chapter: “All the ponies in this town are CRAZY!” Including you.’

“Shut up!” Sunset quietly hissed at the Demon. She did not want Rarity to overhear this. “They’re not crazy and neither am I!”

‘Pfft!’ The Demon snorted. ‘Let’s be real here, Sunnybuns, you’re not the poster child of sanity. Mommy issues up to the moon, crippling doubts in your self-worth, a single minded obsession with becoming a Princess, the list goes on. And let’s not forget, you’re literally talking to a voice inside your head right now.’

“Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” Sunset snarled, louder than she had intended to. “I’m not crazy!”

“I’m sorry, is somepony else already here?” Rarity said as she finally arrived at Sunset’s reading couch. “I wouldn’t want to interrupt.”

“No…” Sunset blushed deeply and shrunk into her seat. “Just...talking to myself…”

Eager to change the topic, she shook her head and looked straight at Rarity. “Nevermind that, what brings you here?”

“Well, darling, Applejack told us that you decided to postpone our tour of Ponyville for the time being,” Rarity said and Sunset silently thanked the stars that Rarity possessed the tact and social graces not to pry. “And since I had already cleared my schedule for the day, I thought I’d pass by and ask if you’re feeling up for a little chat.”

“A little chat?” 

Okay, that was fine, a chat with Rarity she could handle. 

“Yes, you see, there is something I’ve been wanting to ask you about the human world.”

Sunset raised an eyebrow. “Okay, what would that be?”

“I was wondering,” Rarity gracefully settled down on the couch opposite of Sunset’s, “what you could tell me about the fashion of the human world.”

“The fashion?” 

“Ever since Twilight told us about how everypony in that world wears clothes all the time, it’s been occupying my thoughts somewhat,” Rarity said with a wistful sigh. “A professional weakness, I’m afraid.”

“I can imagine,” Sunset let out a small chuckle. “You have your own boutique here in Ponyville, don’t you?”

“And opening a branch in Canterlot soon.” Rarity’s eyes gleamed with pride. 

“The ponies of Canterlot could indeed use someone with an actual fashion sense,” Sunset smirked. 

“And I aim to provide them with quality garments,” Rarity smiled modestly. “But let’s talk about that later. I’m ever so curious is like when everypony around you wears clothes all day every day.”

Her eyes lit up at the thought. “Just imagine it, darling! Everypony in Ponyville! Nay! In Equestria! Wearing my fabulous creations every day of the year!”

“And spending lots of bits in your boutique to get them.” 

“Well, yes, there is that too,” Rarity admitted with a small blush. “But the money is a secondary benefit. I am an artisté! My creative soul soars at the thought of ponies wearing outfits that are chic, unique and magnifique!”

“You’re setting yourself up for a disappointment then,” Sunset snorted. The sheer enthusiasm in Rarity’s voice, was lifting her mood as well. “Most people over there have a lousy taste in fashion.”

“Oh, pish posh.” Rarity waved the objection off. “That is but one more creative challenge that I will relish to overcome! Now tell me everything!”

“Alright, alright,” Sunset laughed. “But first, would you like some tea? I made a fresh pot just before you came.”

“A cup of tea would be lovely, thank you,” Rarity smiled.

Sunset stood up from her couch. “Let me just fetch you a cup.”

Closing her eyes, Sunset lit up her horn, visualising the castle kitchen as her destination. With a bright burst of magic she disappeared from the library and reappeared in a bathtub.

“Stupid oversized castle, stupid screwy magic…” Sunset muttered darkly to herself as she trotted through the many hallways of the castle. The bathtub she had teleported to had been adjacent one of the to many, mostly still unfurnished, guest rooms of the castle, and finding her way to the kitchen proved to be more challenging than she had imagined. On the positive side it gave her some time to think. 

Despite the unexpected nature of her visit, Sunset found that she was actually enjoying her chat with Rarity. After the exhausting flurry of emotions that the rest of her week had been, just a casual conversation with a friend was a welcome change of pace. Friend? Was Rarity her friend? Well no, of course not. She had literally just met the mare. Friendships didn’t develop that fast. She’d scarcely been able to believe it when the girls had called themselves her friends following the Fall Formal. And from the looks of it, she had been justified in her scepticism.

Still, Rarity had been under no obligation to visit after Sunset had called off the tour. But she had still decided to come here, trying to connect with Sunset in her own Rarity-ish way. Just like Applejack had, when she could’ve just left. That knowledge made Sunset feel warm inside. But their conversations had already highlighted something Sunset had not wanted to think about: She missed her friends.

They had hurt her terribly and Sunset wasn’t sure if she’d be able to forgive them any better than they seemed to have forgiven her but… That warmth she was feeling right now? They had made her feel it too. Every day after the Formal and the weeks following it, they had made her feel that there were still people who cared about her. That she didn’t have to be alone. That she could get better again. And despite everything, she missed them. Yes, their lack of trust still hurt. The way they lied about forgiving her still hurt. The way they had called themselves her family and then turned their backs on her really hurt. But she still missed them. She still wanted this entire horrible week to have been nothing but a bad dream.

Sunset sighed. It was pointless musing. Even if Twilight managed to fix the situation at CHS and get her friends to forgive her, and her to forgive them, she’d never be able to go back to CHS. Even under the best of circumstances, she’d still get kicked out of the school for what she had done on her last day. And it wasn’t like she could go back in time to stop it all from happening. All she could do now was to accept that fact and keep moving forward. And at this moment, moving forward meant finding that blasted kitchen and having tea with Rarity.

A flash of light that drowned out the world and Sunset reappeared in the library, just below the ceiling. She only had a moment to realise her predicament, before she plummeted screaming down towards the hard crystal floor. Fortunately, a blue shimmering couch suddenly moved itself into her path, and the impact upon the soft cushions merely knocked the wind out of her. And as Sunset lay gasping for breath on the mysterious couch, she noticed that even the tea cup had survived the fall. Then Rarity was upon her, her big, blue eyes filled with panicked concern.

“Oh my goodness! Sunset, are you alright?!” Rarity shook Sunset frantically, looking over her body for signs of injury.

“I’m okay…” Sunset gasped weakly, trying to get her breath working again. “I’m okay…”

“Thank Celestia!” Rarity breathed a sigh of relief. Then she immediately moved on from panicked concern to angry concern. “What in all of Equestria were you thinking teleporting yourself up that high?!”

“Wasn’t my idea…” Sunset groaned, as she tried to rise from the couch. “My magic is all screwy…”

“Then why did you try to teleport of all things if your magic isn’t working properly?” Rarity gave her a look of stern, big sisterly disapproval. “If I hadn’t had my trusty fainting couch handy, you could’ve been seriously hurt.”

Sunset blushed and muttered something unintelligible.

“I’m sorry, darling, what did you say?” Rarity’s stern expression did not waver.

“I said I was lost!” Sunset’s cheeks lit up flaming red with embarrassment. “I teleported into a random bathroom the first time, and then I got lost trying to find the kitchen, and then I got lost again trying to find my way back here! This castle way too big and stupidly designed! If I’d actually kept going on foot back here, the movie would’ve been over!”

Rarity blinked. Then she asked: “The movie?”

Sunset sighed. “Nevermind, human reference.”

“Well, at least you appear to be unharmed.” Rarity looked Sunset over one last time. 

“Yeah, that couch pretty much saved me there.” Sunset raised an eyebrow. “Why exactly did you bring a fainting couch with you anyway?”

“I always carry it with me for an outing,” Rarity said, as though it was the most natural thing in the world. “A lady never knows when she might have to faint dramatically, after all.”

Okay, that was an eccentricity her Rarity hadn’t possessed. Possibly only due to lack of ability to lug a couch around with her everywhere she went, granted.

“Well, at any rate, I got your teacup.” Sunset held up the cup in her magic. “Shall we get back to fashion?”

“Yes, let us resume,” Rarity smiled. 

While far from being the fashionista Rarity was, Sunset had learned a thing or two about subject during her life. The future Princess of Equestria had to look her best, after all. And later on, nobody could be friends with Rarity for months without learning a little bit about fashion and the current trends. Rarity for her part listened to Sunset with rapt attention, her eyes sparkling and her mind brimming with new ideas.

“I’d like to show you some examples, but my clothes didn’t make it back through the portal,” Sunset concluded her lecture. “Which is a bit weird, since those weren’t even the same clothes the portal gave me when I passed through from this side, except for my jacket.”

“I miss my jacket…” She sighed. “I’d worn it almost the entire time I spent in that world. I feel… kinda naked without it now...”

“Sunset, Darling, you are naked.”

“I know! I mean like...more naked. Like, if someone had shaved my coat off, kind of naked.”

“What a ghastly thought!” Rarity let out a horrified little gasp. “Fret not, Sunset Shimmer! I shall make you a new jacket posthaste!”

“You don’t have to-” Sunset tried to protest, but Rarity magically clamped her mouth shut to cut her off.

“You’re right, I don’t.” Rarity shook her head and smiled. “But I want to.”

For a moment, Sunset stared helplessly at Rarity. Then she laughed at how silly she was being. Attempts to dissuade Rarity from being generous had only ever ended with her feeling foolish for not accepting the gift right away. And the way Rarity had immediately jumped on the opportunity to do something nice for her just stoked the warmth in Sunset’s chest even further.

“Thanks, Rarity. That means a lot to me.”

“You’re more than welcome, Darling,” Rarity said. “Just stop by my boutique whenever you’re ready. I’ll need your help to make sure that the design is accurate, after all.”

“Actually, I can give you something even better than that.” Sunset glanced towards the Crystal Mirror. “My phone’s got a couple pictures of me wearing the jacket on it. Once Twilight is back, I can show them to you.”

For a moment, an expression of disappointment flickered across Rarity’s face. Then her smile reasserted itself.

“Why yes, some reference material will be most helpful. Please, do bring your, uhm…’phone’ along when you come to visit.”

Drinking the last of her tea, Rarity stood up from her couch. “Now, I do believe I’ve taken up enough of your time for today. It’s been a pleasure finally meeting you in person, Sunset.”

“Likewise, Rarity.” Sunset rose as well and, on a sudden impulse, hugged Rarity. “And thank you for coming here. It really helped me feel better.”

“My pleasure.” Rarity returned the hug with a tender smile. “And please, do not hesitate to come and visit me when you’re in the mood for some tea and conversation.”

Sunset broke the hug, a broad smile on her lips. “I will.”

With Rarity gone, Sunset made herself a fresh pot of tea, and settled down for some more reading. After Twilight’s mental breakdown about tardiness, Celestia had instructed all of her friends to send her friendship reports as well. The stories became more varied and carried some rather amusing revelations.

“Rarity wears false eyelashes?” Sunset snorted. “Well consider my worldview shook.”

“Ooooh! Are you reading the one about the cake?!” A very excited, very pink voice suddenly said from behind Sunset.

With a startled “Ack!”, Sunset flung herself away from the voice and off the couch onto the hard crystal floor.

“Are you okay, Sunny?” Pinkie Pie’s head popped up from behind the couch, followed by the rest of her body and a tray of cupcakes she balanced on her tail. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“I’m okay…” Sunset replied weakly. With some effort, she managed to climb her way back onto the couch. “When did you get here anyway? I didn’t hear any hoofsteps.”

“Silly Sunny,” Pinkie giggled. “This castle is way too big. If I had walked all the way to the library, the movie would’ve been over.”

“How do you even know-” Sunset cut herself off before she could finish the thought. “Nevermind, you’re Pinkie Pie, you get a pass on that kinda thing.”

“Soooo? Were you reading about that time we escorted Mr. and Mrs. Cake’s Marzipan Mascarpone Meringue Madness for the National Dessert Competition and in the middle of the night I chased around three cake thieves and it turned out that the cake thieves had taken three bites out of the MMMM and Twilight detectivised that Rainbow, Fluttershy and Rarity were the thieves?” Pinkie took a deep breath. “Were you?”

“Yes-” was all Sunset managed to reply, before Pinkie buried her under a second avalanche of words.

“Cause let me tell you, that was one doozy to explain to Mr. and Mrs. Cake when we got to the competition. Thankfully Princess Celestia was kind enough to let the MMMM enter anyway, on the condition that she got to eat the rest of it afterwards.”

“Yeah that sounds like her kind of bribe…” Sunset snorted. “I swear, that entire Competition is just an excuse of hers to eat her own weight in dessert without feeling guilty about it.”

“Twice her weight if you count the life-sized Chocolate Mousse Moose,” Pinkie added brightly.

Sunset facehooved. 

“So what brings you here?” She then asked Pinkie.

“Well, two things. First my Pinkie sense told me that a friend of mine of was in need of some cheer-up cupcakes, so I brought you these!” Pinkie proudly presented her tray. On the tray stood, neatly lined up, a baker’s dozen of Pinkie-Pie-Grade delicious looking chocolate cupcakes with white frosting. “I made your favorite kind.” 

Sunset’s stomach took that as a cue to rumble audibly. 

“It’s been a while since breakfast,” Sunset admitted, licking her lips. “Some cupcakes right now would be- Wait!” 

She eyed Pinkie suspiciously. “How do you know my favorite kind of cupcake? I don’t recall divulging that information.”

“I have my methods,” Pinkie smiled mysteriously. “Now try one!”

Still not taking her gaze off Pinkie, Sunset picked up one of the cupcakes and took a bite. Immediately, the world disappeared into a rush of bliss, chocolate, vanilla and strawberry came together in her mouth in a perfect balance of deliciousness. Letting out a loud moan, she sunk into the cushions of the couch.

“Aaaaand?” Pinkie smiled expectantly down at Sunset. “Do you like it?”

“It’s perfect!” Sunset moaned, when she had discovered enough from the sensory overload to speak again. “Perfect neoponitan cupcakes, down to the gooey, strawberry center! How did you find that out?”

“That would be telling~” Pinkie singsonged and giggled.

“Fine, keep your pinkish secrets,” Sunset rolled her eyes. “So what was the second thing you came here for?”

Suddenly, Pinkie’s expression turned almost business-like. 

“You still haven’t had your Welcome to Ponyville Party.”

“Pinkie, I’m not really in a-”

“Now I know you’re not in a partying mood right now and that’s okay,” Pinkie said over Sunset’s protest. “I just wanted to tell you that, when you’re feeling better, all you gotta do is say the word and I’ll throw you the bestest Welcome Party you’ve ever had.”

Sunset was genuinely touched. Usually when someone was not in a partying mood, Pinkie’s fix to it was to throw them a party and infect them with cheer anyway. And she knew how much it pained Pinkie, when she couldn’t make someone feel better with a party. That this Pinkie was not only willing to hold off until Sunset actually asked her to throw the party, but also realised that a party wasn’t the solution to Sunset’s gloom, was a level of maturity Sunset had never seen in her counterpart. That more than anything proved in Sunset’s mind that these mares really were different from the girls she had known at Canterlot High.

“Thanks, Pinkie,” Sunset smiled. “I will.”

“Okie dokie lokie!” Immediately, the serious expression on Pinkie’s face gave way to her usual, cheerful smile. Then her tail began to wag wildly and her back hooves broke out into a sort of frenzied tapdance. 

“Looks like I gotta go,” she said, with an almost analytical look towards her hindquarters. “Waggy tail and dancy legs means the Cakes have some deliveries for me to deliver.”

“Sure thing,” Sunset chuckled. “I’ll just have some more cupcakes and read the rest of the book.”

“Alrighty! See ya later, Sunny!” And with that, Pinkie disappeared in a pink blur.

Still chuckling to herself, Sunset grabbed another cupcake. If the pattern held, she was going to get a visit from Rainbow and Fluttershy before the rest of the day was over. 

But she was ready for that.