Once the girls were sure Sunset was asleep, Rarity and Fluttershy made their way out into the hall, exhaustion weighing heavily on their shoulders. Fluttershy carefully closed the door after herself, a deep sigh escaping her after she heard the click of the door shutting into place. Rarity rubbed Fluttershy’s back, comforting the girl until she was able to turn around and face the rest of her friends.
All six girls stood in tense silence out in the hall, each in varying states of weariness.
Applejack cleared her throat. "Has anyone texted Miss Luna yet?"
Rainbow Dash raised two fingers up. "I texted her when we got here but nothing after that."
"So that was," Pinkie looked at an imaginary watch, "almost two hours ago?"
"Oh my, has it not even been two hours?" Rarity asked, rubbing her hand along her face. The girls shared looks of disbelief. It seemed like an entire lifetime had gone by.
"I emailed her a report after Sunset ate,” Fluttershy mentioned, nervously wringing her hair.
AJ nodded her head, satisfied that someone was keeping the VP in the loop. “Ah’ll start a group chat so we can all text her updates and the like.”
The rest of the girls nodded, content to let the farm girl take the lead for now.
“What’s the plan for watch duty?” AJ asked as she typed away on her phone. While Rarity and Fluttershy were calming Sunset down, the other girls had decided that Sunset wouldn’t be alone at all during the night.
“What about me, Fluttershy, Pinkie, Rarity, and then AJ. Does that sound good?” Rainbow Dash asked, looking at her friends.
The rest of the girls nodded, save for Pinkie who gave a very serious salute.
Dash tried not to snicker, seeing that things were serious, but she couldn’t help but love Pinkie even more for her antics.
I lost a whole year of Pinkie madness, she thought ruefully. While it would be easy for Rainbow to blame Sunset for everything, she had to admit that the whole thing had been their own doing. If we’d just talked to each other, things would’ve been different.
Pushing those thoughts to the side, Rainbow got into “captain mode,” as her teammates called it. Though there were plenty of rumors about Dash’s intelligence, she didn’t become captain for nothing.
“Ok, so we’ll each watch her for an hour and fifteen minutes before waking up the next one to watch her.”
“Why an hour and fifteen minutes?” Rarity piped up, confused. Dash held up a finger.
“For one, I’m pretty sure VP Luna is gonna wanna get Sunset to a doctor as soon as possible and the earliest ones open at nine tomorrow,” Dash raised another finger, “And for two, it’s-" Dash checked her phone, "one-fourty-five in the morning and if we all watch her for an hour and fifteen minutes exactly, that gets us to eight-thirty.” Dash smirked at the impressed look on her friends’ faces. “Hey, just because I’m awesome at sports doesn’t mean I can’t be awesome at basic math too.” AJ chuckled at the girl’s cocky attitude, punching her in the arm a bit.
“So what’s the rest of the plan?” the farmgirl asked, more than happy to leave the planning to someone else.
Rainbow picked up where she left off, not missing a beat. “If she has a nightmare, wake her up.” The girls nodded, though Fluttershy seemed unsure about it. Dash put a hand on the girl’s arm.
“It’s safer for everyone if we wake her up, Shy. We wouldn’t want her to hurt us or herself, right?”
Fluttershy nodded, her eyes becoming more resolved. Dash smiled and pulled away, wanting to clear up the plan as soon as possible.
“If she wakes up in pain, we get her pain pills,” Dash continued, “And if she has another panic attack, we make sure Shy, AJ, and Rarity are with her.” Though she felt bad about it, Dash knew that she wouldn’t be able to help Sunset the way her friends could. She just wasn’t good with emotions. Negative ones, anyway.
Rarity raised her hand.
“Yes Rarity?” Dash asked, curious as to what the fashionista had to say.
“What do we do after Vice-Principal Luna takes her?” Rarity didn’t even try to hide the fear and uncertainty in her voice.
Fluttershy anxiously pulled her hair in front of her face. “Oh my, do you think Miss Luna will take Sunset away forever?”
“Ah’m sure she won’t, sugar cube,” AJ tried to reassure, though she wasn’t very sure herself.
“What if Miss Luna adopts her!” Pinkie nearly yelled, her voice filled with excitement and nerves.
“Uh, why would she do that?” Dash asked, crossing her arms and leaning against the wall.
Pinkie shrugged. “I dunno, it’s just a hunch.”
“It would make sense,” Rarity muttered, looking deep in thought. “Sunset is an alien exile residing here with forged documents.” The rest of the girls nodded along. “I’m not sure Miss Luna will go so far as to adopt Sunset, but she could very well become her legal guardian.”
Rainbow Dash couldn’t help but play devil’s advocate. “Ok, but what if she doesn’t?” The girls looked at her in silent uncertainty.
“What do we do if Sunset doesn’t go to live with Luna? Do we even know where Sunset lives?”
Her friends muttered to each other, but not even Pinkie Pie knew where the former bully lived.
“She can stay with me for a little while,” Fluttershy offered. With her brother away at boarding school, and the overly generous nature of her parents, she was sure housing Sunset would be no problem.
“That’s mighty kind of yah Shy,” Applejack commended, crossing her arms. “But are ya sure ya can handle it?” Worry and concern tinged her voice. All the girls knew how cruel Sunset was to the animal lover.
Fluttershy nodded firmly, coming out from behind her hair. “Sunset won’t hurt me anymore,” she declared with certainty and authority, two traits rarely seen from her.
The girls looked around at each other, concern and worry evident on their faces. While they had all seen just how different the former queen bee was, there was still the fear that Sunset would revert back to her old ways once she was done healing.
“How can you be so sure, darling?” Rarity asked, one hand going to her necklace and the other gently grasping Fluttershy’s wrist.
“I’m sure Shy’s got a good reason,” Pinkie said, bouncing over to her friend and wrapping an arm around her shoulders.
Fluttershy nodded, easing into the physical contact she had been without for an entire year.
“Sunset isn’t the same person anymore.” Though Applejack had her reservations, she nodded along with her friends at Fluttershy’s words. Dash uncrossed her arms to put her hands on her hips.
“She did apologize like, nonstop since Twilight left.”
“And the poor dear keeps having panic attacks over any help we try to give her.” Rarity and Fluttershy shared a weary look, both emotionally drained from the most recent attack.
“Plus, Sunny doesn’t have that mean ol’ look in her eye anymore! And she’s not hurting anymore either!” Dash snickered at the way Pinkie bounced as she spoke.
Applejack frowned at the word choice. “What d’yah mean, Pinkie?” She leaned closer to the girl.
Pinkie deflated a bit, enough to startle her friends. “You can always tell when someone is hurting,” she said seriously. “Smiles never reach their eyes, and makeup can only go so far.” Pinkie gave a watery smile, her own memories of another surfacing.
Rarity gasped. “Pinkie Pie! Do you mean to suggest that Sunset was abused?”
Pinkie nodded ever so slightly, her hair deflating even more. As the unofficial official party planner at CHS, Pinkie had experience with makeup. Being a former pony, Sunset probably didn’t know that she had to use different types of makeup to cover everything. Pinkie remembered seeing multiple bruises and several black eyes that weren’t as covered towards her hair line. Having dedicated herself to studying all the likes and dislikes of every student at CHS, Pinkie was used to observing people on the down low. Which also meant that she knew almost all the students who were cutting, abused at home, or getting involved with drugs and gang violence.
I know I can’t help them all, but at least I can try to make them smile. Pinkie’s eyes briefly glanced at Dashie, but that was a conversation for another time.
AJ hummed in thought. "That explains the panic attack in the bathroom." Rarity and Fluttershy shared a look of understanding with the farmer, horror dawning on Fluttershy's face.
“Oh my, I hope she’s not in any danger now.” Are her abusers looking for her?
Pinkie nodded at Shy’s unasked question. “Sunny stopped showing up with bruises last semester around February.” Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, thankful that they wouldn’t have to deal with any potential threats. Rarity and Dash were equally thankful that they didn't have to suspect Flash Sentry. The two started dating in March, Rarity recalled. Though it was a close call, it was enough for her to feel assured that they wouldn't need to worry about Flash in the coming months.
Fluttershy raised her hand to get the group’s attention. “Um, should we tell Miss Luna about that?” No one answered right away, each contemplating what they should do.
“Perhaps...not until we know for sure,” Rarity suggested delicately. Although she believed Pinkie Pie, there was some benefit to gathering all of the facts before making an accusation. Shadow Spade always gathered empirical evidence until everything fell into place right at the very end. Rarity strove to be no different.
“Pinkie,” Dash said, waiting for the girl to acknowledge her. “You took a psychology class last year, right?”
“Yupperoonie!” Pinkie started bouncing again at the mention of her favorite non-baking elective class.
“Mrs. Norman was the absolutely-positutely best teacher ever!”
Dash chuckled along with her friends but quickly drew the conversation back to the topic at hand. “Did Mrs. Norman ever talk about abuse?”
Pinkie thought for a moment before bouncing as she remembered.
“She did! I even kept all of my notes!” Everyone expected the party planner to pull a notebook from her hair (as was the norm), but she instead pulled out her phone from her pajama pocket.
“Did you... take notes on your phone?”
“Don’t be silly Dashie,” Pinkie giggled, “I wrote them all down on my laptop and put it on Haystack Drive!”
The girls all realized in that moment that Pinkie was far more organized than her chaotic energy suggested.
Was she always like that, or was that something that happened after we stopped talking? Rainbow honestly couldn’t remember.
“Awesome! Can you send the notes on abuse to us so we can know how to help Sunset?”
Pinkie nodded and set about sending the document to all of her friends. “There!” Almost immediately, the rest of their phones went off with the notification that Pinkie’s email had been received. Dash and AJ scanned the document quickly while Fluttershy and Rarity took the moment to simply breathe.
“Great,” Dash commented as she pocketed her phone. “You guys ready?”
With collective nods, the group prepared themselves for a long night.