Different Ways

by CrownofDissonance

00- Different Ways

    "I'm glad we got to study together."

    "Me too."

    Twilight Sparkle and Sunset Shimmer walked out the small coffee shop at the corner of Rosemary Way and 3rd street. The tall, dense buildings of Canterlot City cast an angled, dark shadow beneath a slowly reddening sky. The cool, evening spring air brushed against their skin in a light breeze, but Twilight stayed comfortably warm in her soft, purple cotton jacket. Sunset shivered a bit, standing beside her friend in a short-sleeved black top. A short, gold leather biker jacket was draped over her shoulder though, and she put it on as they left the warmth of the indoors. Her length of long, red hair was caught beneath the thick fabric, and so she pulled it up through and let it fall down her back. Now self-conscious of her own hair, Twilight adjusted her violet bangs, pushing them so that they lined up perfectly above the rims of her large, squared glasses.

    There was nothing that needed doing after school today, so the two of them decided to take time to study together for a test at the end of the week. They were three quarters of the way through their second year at Canterlot High, and nothing disastrous had yet happened. No demons attacked the school, no incidents occurred during their musical showcase, and there was no inner quarrel between them and their rival school, Crystal Prep. Far more importantly, Twilight seemed to relax a bit in her frantic studying during the previous year, and as a result she and Sunset got to spend more time together. It was a good year so far.

    "Same time tomorrow?" Twilight asked, adjusting her backpack over her shoulders. "I want to get as much study time in before the test on Friday."

    "Sure, we can do that." Sunset replied. Fidgeting with the strap of her own messenger bag, she realized she just put her jacket on over it, awkwardly sandwiching it between the fabrics. Oh well. "Principal Celestia's probably going to have us training on Thursday anyway, so tomorrow will be the only day we have before the test."

    "Right," Twilight said. Their school's principal, the retired demon hunter Celestia, was training the two girls to fight evil outside of their normal highschool curriculum. The previous school year had been far more interesting, but as the action died down their training still continued. On Thursday, another mock battle against paper targets surely awaited them after class. "Tomorrow then."

    Sunset walked to the curb where her black and chrome motorcycle was patiently waiting on its kickstand for her to return. Before mounting it, she turned back to Twilight, drawing keys from the pocket of her casual cargo pants. "Want a ride home?"

    "That won't be necessary. Check this out." Showing an excited smile, Twilight pointed down to her feet, she wore some sort of blocky, metal boots that her worn, grey jeans were neatly bunched up around. Some technology glowed a light blue inside of them. They looked odd, but Sunset assumed Twilight was just testing another of her wild inventions. Or maybe she'd taken a sudden interest in fringe fashion.

    "Yeah?" Sunset's eyes went from the boots to Twilight's eyes, giving her a curious look.

    Twilight jumped into the air, her boots shining brightly before a longboard of grey metal materialized from nothing beneath her, hovering a few feet up off the ground by some glowing propulsion device along the bottom. It hummed softly as Twilight balanced herself on it, whirring a bit as it floated against the force of gravity.

    "Wow, a hoverboard?" Sunset's eyes shone with amazement. "How'd you manage that?"

    "Well..." Twilight began to twirl idly on the board, slowly rotating herself around and renewing her eye contact with Sunset as she prepared to explain it in intricate detail. She talked about magical bits she found while out on a training mission, integrating it with some electronics and hooking it to a piece of metal, then went on about a related project about reducing non-organic material into chemical components, gradually losing Sunset as she went. She stopped her spinning and talking when she saw that Sunset had a vacant, almost lost look in her eyes. Sunset's mind was that of a mechanic's, not an engineer's. "If you're not following me you can just say so."

    "Oh no, I'm just..." Sunset shook her head. A subtle panic overtook her—she didn't want to cut her friend off, but as Twilight cocked her head to the side slightly she knew she'd taken notice. "Just... listening?"

    "It's okay," Twilight assured her, offering her friend a more practical explanation. "The board can float because I applied engineering logic to a magical artifact, and it fits in my boots because my boots can store physical objects in digital space."

    "Ah, okay." Sunset nodded, parsing that explanation much better than the previous one. "That's really cool."

    "I think so! It was really smooth on the way here," Twilight said. "I just finished it yesterday, I wanted to show someone who might appreciate it..."

    "Well I think it's great," Sunset said. "I can see you've put a lot of work into it, and looks like it's working well. It's cool!"

    "As cool as your bike, even?" Twilight looked off at Sunset's well kept, recently polished ride, and Sunset gave a supportive smile.

    "Definitely! Even cooler, I'd say," She replied. "It's so... you."

    "Me?" Twilight's head tilted again. The way Sunset said 'you' threw her off a bit. "How do you mean?"

    "Well, it's like..." Sunset said, trying to think of more words to explain it. "A bike is more my thing, cause I just like working on bikes. A weird sciencey hoverboard is totally a you thing, 'cause you like working on weird science stuff."

    "Weird?" Twilight asked, her eyes going up as she focused on the specifics of Sunset's wording. "Are my projects weird?"

    "Well, I didn't mean-" Sunset winced, cursing her lack of communication skills for sabotaging her efforts to reassure her friend. "I mean... I like weird. It's more interesting than a plain old bike."

    "So a good weird then," Twilight said, then gave Sunset a straight yet curious look as she asked a straightforward question. "Do you think I'm weird?"

    "Uh..." Sunset's mind began to turn again, her eyes darting to either side as she was unable to read Twilight's expression. As things so often were with her friend, she couldn't determine how Twilight might want her to answer. Of course, Sunset felt her own interests were particularly ordinary. She liked doing simpler things and just generally taking it easy, and though she often found herself fixing things when problems arose, Twilight was actively making new and interesting things to keep herself occupied. Was she weird because of that? Twilight asked what she thought, so that's what Sunset would give her.

    "Absolutely!" she said, watching Twilight's face light up in surprise. "Your mind is brilliant and unpredictable and I never know what you're going to do or say or show me next. It's charming, really. So yes, you're wonderfully weird, Twilight."

    Twilight's face did not change for a good five seconds. Sunset just waited patiently, her friend sometimes needed a moment when she did something unexpected. Slowly, Twilight's cheeks rose, and she let out a little laugh as she smiled. She appreciated the honesty. "Thank you, then. I still think your bike is cool, though. And so are you."

    "Am I, now?" Sunset asked, a curious look on her own on her face.

    "Of course you are," Twilight crossed her arms, a teasing, matter-of-fact look on her face. "You've always been the cool one. You play guitar, live carefree, you wear those slick leather jackets, and you always know what to say or do when talking to people. Your bike is cool because it's you, and my board is cool because it's me. You follow me?"

    Sunset nodded, and gave it more of a second thought. She never thought much of being cool, but it sure felt reassuring to have Twilight flip her own affirming logic back at her. "Yeah I guess they both are, aren't they? In different ways."

    "In different ways, right," Twilight repeated, hesitating a moment before adding, "But I still wouldn't mind bike rides with you now and again. They're nice."

    "Oh yeah?" Sunset gave a just a small, subtle smile. "You want to go for one more tonight?"

    Smiling back and sighing, Twilight shook her head. "Oh, no. I have to make sure this board runs smoothly home, and after that I just want to relax for the night."

    Letting her subtle smile shift, Sunset conceded. "That's okay, thought I'd offer."

    "It's appreciated, don't worry." Twilight watched as Sunset got on her motorcycle, putting the kickstand up and letting it balance upright with one foot on the ground. 

    "I'll see you tomorrow, then." Sunset said, watching as Twilight too turned her board off down the street running perpendicular. 

    "So long, Sunset," Twilight raised a hand and waved, saying a phrase that had become a recurring one between the two of them at the conclusion of their meetings.

    "So long..." Sunset repeated the phrase, giving her own two finger wave in response.

    At this point, they again smiled, waiting just a moment before finishing their goodbye with the same cadence, at the same time.

    "And goodnight."

    It was a silly thing they did, but it brought both of them a strange sense of joy being able to end their time together at the exact same moment without either feeling like they were letting the other go. The practice began when they said the words in unison on accident, but as time went on they tried to do it on purpose to mess with each other, until now it was something special and endearing they shared. 

    She watched as a smiling, happy Twilight glided away on her hoverboard, leaving a faint blue streak behind her as she turned the corner and went her usual way home. 

    With a smile to match, Sunset put the key in her motorcycle and brought it roaring to life, and she too set off on her own way.