“I was so wrong,” Sunset groaned. This is so, so much worse.
“Did you say something, dear?” Rarity asked, popping up to look over Sunset’s shoulder. The girl shook her head, groaning as Applejack taped down another gauze pad.
“Just a few mor’n then we’re done, sugarcube.”
Sunset grit her teeth and nodded through the pain. I know this is my punishment, but why on Celestia’s left buttcheek does it hurt so much? She’s not even pressing all that hard! Sunset groaned in frustration at the constant pain she was under. Celestia, what I wouldn’t give for some sleeping pills right about now. Tears pricked at the girl’s eyes, memories of another time flooding through her.
“What are you doing?” Sunset shifted away from the man, uncomfortable and scared at the look he was giving her. He simply smirked at her question, his eyes roaming her body.
“Just be quiet and this will all be over soon,” he whispered, one hand running along Sunset’s exposed leg and the other unzipping his pants.
“That’s the last of it, I reckon.”
“What?” Sunset asked, shaking her head to clear away the flashbacks she was prone to.
Rarity rubbed the orange girl’s shoulder, frowning when Sunset flinched away.“We’ve finished with your back, darling.”
“All that's left to do is get them scratches cleaned and you’ll be right as rain,”Applejack explained, gently probing Sunset to turn around.
“Ok,” Sunset mumbled, her body and mind exhausted.
Applejack patted the girl’s hand in sympathy. “It’ll be over soon, sugar cube.”
Almost immediately, Sunset went completely rigid, her eyes wide and her arms wrapped protectively around her chest.
“No,” she muttered, her eyes darting every which way but not focusing on anything. AJ and Rarity shared a brief look of concern.
“You’re so sexy, the way you always walk around here without a bra. It’s like you’re begging for it.”
“Sunset? Are you ok darling?” Rarity tried to reach out to Sunset but the girl violently pulled away.
“No, please, don’t hurt me,” Sunset cried over and over again, backing away and curling in on herself.
“Just let it happen. I promise you’ll enjoy it.”
Rarity left to get Fluttershy, easily recognizing the signs of a panic attack.
Applejack knelt as close to Sunset as she dared, making sure not to touch her. She’d dealt with panic attacks of all varieties and knew this one would require a “hands off” approach.
“Sunset?” The girl in question didn’t register Applejack’s voice.
“Now don’t do anything stupid or else I’ll have to turn you over to the cops.”
The farmer tried to touch her hand, but Sunset ripped it away, nearly falling from her perch on the toilet.
“You little bitch! You won’t be able to move when I’m done with you.”
“No no no please stop, you’re hurting me,” Sunset pleaded, tears streaming down her clouded eyes.
“This is what you deserve. Sluts like you are pathetic. This’ll teach you your place.”
“We don’t want to hurt you Sunset, and we’re sorry we have.”
As if flipping a switch, Fluttershy’s voice drew Sunset’s eyes into focus enough for her to recognize the timid girl.
“Don’t leave me,” Sunset rasped out desperately, her hand reaching for Fluttershy.
Sobs wracked her body but the girl refused to look away, her eyes pleading for Fluttershy to save her.
“I won’t, I promise,” Fluttershy whispered, moving to kneel before the traumatized girl. Sunset snatched Fluttershy’s hand and pulled her closer, wrapping her arms around the yellow girl’s stomach and burying her face in Fluttershy’s pajama shirt. Her sobs grew louder when she felt Fluttershy take her hair out of the towel so she could play with it, while someone else grabbed and massaged her hand.
Fluttershy hugged Sunset’s head closer. “Shh, you’re safe now.”
Sunset cried even harder at those words.
“We’re not gonna hurtcha, sugar plum.”
Sunset didn’t even realize the farmer was still here. Someone squeezed her hand again.
“We promise, darling. You are in very good hands.” Rarity massaged Sunset’s fist, opening her palm up and tracing her nails along the skin. Hmm, she doesn’t seem to mind me touching her hands. I wonder why her shoulders and arms are different.
Eventually, Sunset’s sobs died down and her tears dried up. She sighed deeply, sniffling a bit. Despite the tightness in her throat, she prepared herself to speak—
“Don’t you dare apologize, Sunset Shimmer.”
The pony-turned-human flinched at the stern tone Fluttershy used. How did she know what I was gonna say?
Fluttershy caressed Sunset’s fiery mane while Rarity and Applejack quietly slipped out of the bathroom.
"Do you want to talk about it?" Fluttershy asked when she was sure the others were gone. Sunset shook her head, tightening her hold on the usually timid girl.
"That's ok," Fluttershy said softly, "but I want you to know that you can talk to any of us about it when you're ready."
Sunset looked up at the yellow girl in confusion. Fluttershy's heart broke at the hope and fear in her eyes.
"We've all gone through some hard times, and we understand how much it hurts to work through. You can ask Rarity and Applejack about that later. And while Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash say they're bad at emotions, you can always count on them to be there for you."
Sunset looked down in thought for a moment, chewing on her lip. Can I really trust these girls? In the deepest part of Sunset’s soul, she yearned for the safety and support these girls had shown her in the last few hours. Sweet Celestia, I am so weak. Sunset dropped her head against Fluttershy’s stomach. Though she felt weak for relying on them, she hated herself even more for wanting their care. It feels so good to have someone take care of me. But at the same time, I feel like I shouldn’t need anyone. Sunset sniffed, overwhelmed by her conflicting feelings.
Fluttershy, who had been watching Sunset’s internal struggle rather closely, knelt down before the fallen queen bee. She put her hands on Sunset’s, careful to be as gentle as possible.“It’s ok to need help, Sunset.”
Sunset looked down at their joined hands, her jaw clenching at the words.
“I help animals because no one helped me until I started therapy,” the timid girl continued, keeping her eyes low and her voice soft. Sunset looked up at Fluttershy with awe and guilt, her eyes welling up with a fresh set of tears.
“My therapist tells me that it’s ok to be vulnerable,” Fluttershy paused, playing with Sunset’s fingers. “Being vulnerable doesn’t make you weak.” She looked up, her hair falling back to reveal her determined eyes. ”It actually makes you very strong.” Fluttershy stared into Sunset’s eyes, trying to convey her feelings.
“Being vulnerable is being true to yourself and having the courage to show that to others.”
Sunset nodded and sniffed, her smile a strange juxtaposition to her tears. Maybe Fluttershy is right. Have I ever been truly vulnerable? She couldn’t remember feeling this way before, but found that it wasn’t completely unpleasant. New, yes. And definitely scary. But it’s not so bad.
“Thank you,” Sunset whispered. She blew her nose with some toilet paper and nibbled on her lip in contemplation. Should I ask?
“Could..,” Sunset said, anxious at the question she wanted to ask and angry at herself for even wanting something. Fluttershy massaged Sunset's hand, distracting the girl from her spiraling thoughts.
"Could… I please have a hug?"
Fluttershy beamed before slowly learning forward to wrap her arms around the crying girl. Sunset latched on like a koala, taking in the sensations.
Faust, when was the last time someone hugged me? Sunset cried harder at that thought. Even when she was dating Flash, his gentle touches held no meaning for her. He was a means to gain popularity, and Sunset wasn’t willing to let him in. Not after what Max did. And besides, Flash just wasn’t her type when it came to boys. I don’t know if I’m strong enough, Sunset thought bitterly. I want to be my true self, but even I know there are some things humans can be very judgmental about.
Fluttershy held the fallen girl, careful to avoid her newly-bandaged injuries. Her fingers came up to play with Sunset's hair so as to give her some comfort, though she didn't know just how much it meant to the girl.
This feels like heaven. The last time Sunset could remember anyone treating her this lovingly was back in Equestria, years before she had been banished from the castle. She could still remember the soft down of her mentor's wings.
Nothing can hurt you so long as I am here, my little sun. You are safe.
Here in the arms of a virtual stranger, Sunset felt safer than she had in almost a decade.