The Soul's Savior

by Dusty Old Qrow

Chapter 5: Beneath The Mask

Sunset awoke from the best sleep she'd had in years.

Her eyes opened slowly, but then immediately closed again. She shut her eyes tightly and clutched the blanket close. Sunset kept herself as still as possible hoping she'd fall back asleep,ut to her great dismay she still felt fully awake. With a long, sad sigh, Sunset covered her face with the blanket.

Sunset remembered Applejack's ultimatum from the previous night. She was supposed to leave first thing in the morning. Heck, she was already overstaying her welcome just being here in the first place. I should really just leave, she thought to herself. No reason to make Applejack even more angry with me.

Sunset sat up hesitantly, allowing the covers to fall into her lap. As she did so, the door creaked open slowly, causing Sunset to jump and stare wide-eyed at the door and the figure steadily emerging from behind it. She was sure it was Applejack, here to tell Sunset to get out of her house and as far away from here as possible. Sunset closed her eyes and prepared for the yelling that was sure to come.

Instead of shouting, Sunset heard the sound of heavy footsteps against the floor. She opened one of her eyes and looked at the person approaching her, and then opened her other eye in surprise. Sunset easily recognized the old woman: the eldest of the Apple family and Canterlot High’s lunch lady, Granny Smith.

She greeted Sunset with a large smile. “Good mornin’. Ya slept for quite awhile.” As she spoke, the woman made her way to the side of the bed and sat down. Sunset felt the mattress bend under her. “Applejack wanted me ta wake ya sooner, but Ah figured it couldn’t hurt ta let ya sleep just a tad more.”

“Th-thank you,” Sunset stuttered. “I appreciate it.”

“No need ta thank me, darlin’. After what happened last night, Ah’m sure ya needed the rest.”

Sunset winced as memories of the night before came rushing back to her. “I’m so sorry. I’m sorry about last night. And I’m sorry for everything else, too. I’m so sorry.”

Granny Smith nodded. “Ain’t me ya need ta apologize to, but thank ya anyway. If ya don’ mind me askin’, where do ya plan on goin’ now?”

Sunset hesitated. “I… don’t really know,” she said. “I guess I’ll go home, and then figure out what to do next.” To herself she added, my master plan didn’t exactly come with contingencies.

“From what Ah understand, yer ‘home’ ain’t all that homey, right?” Granny Smith asked. Sunset stayed silent, which Granny took as a cue to continue. “Otherwise ya wouldn’t’ve had ta sleep here.”

The older woman let out a long breath and closed her eyes. “Listen ta me, Sunset Shimmer. In my time at CHS, Ah haven’t heard many nice things about you. Kids talkin’ about how mean an’ nasty ya are. How you use people and make ‘em feel like garbage just cuz ya can. Ah dunno if that’s the same girl sittin’ in this room right now… but Ah just wouldn’t be able to live with mahself if Ah didn’t do nothin’ ta help someone in need. If ya ever need it, our door is open.”

Sunset froze. Her eyes widened slightly and her mouth opened and closed several times, trying to form words. She wracked her mind, trying desperately to formulate some sort of response, but came up empty. Sunset felt a sting in the corner of her eyes and realized it was the beginnings of tears.

“Why?” Sunset choked out. “Why are you being so nice to me?” After everything I’ve done, Sunset thought, why are you willing to do this for me?

Granny Smith looked Sunset in the eye and gave the girl her widest, warmest smile. “Because Ah believe everyone deserves a second chance, even if they don’ think they deserve it.”

Sunset’s cheeks became wet with tears. Granny Smith leaned forward and wrapped an arm around Sunset, pulling her in close. Sunset resisted the urge to latch on to her and simply left her hands in her lap. Feelings that had been stored inside Sunset for the past few days came out all at once - her brief return to her homeworld, the struggle to win the Fall Formal, her transformation and defeat - it all rushed out in the form of an unrelenting torrent of tears, and Sunset let out a sob.

Granny Smith stroked Sunset along her back. Sunset thought she heard Granny saying something, but couldn’t hear her over the sound of her own crying. I don’t deserve this, she told herself. Not after everything I’ve done, the people I’ve hurt. Why am I getting a second chance?

Sunset shot one last look at the room before turning away and closing the door. She desperately wanted to ask Granny Smith permission to stay another night, but Sunset resisted the temptation. She’d already used up too much of their hospitality. Sunset knew Granny would agree to house her for another night in an instant, but she refused to take advantage of the older woman’s kindness like that.

I have to go, she told herself. Applejack doesn’t want me here anyway. It wouldn’t be fair to her.

Sunset sighed and descended the stairs. She was slightly surprised to see Applejack waiting for her at the bottom, but hid it well. “Good morning, Applejack,” she said with a nervous smile. “How’d you sleep?”

Applejack rolled her eyes and walked to the front door, opening it without looking away from Sunset. “Slept fine. C’mon, we need to talk.” Applejack turned and walked outside with her arms crossed. Sunset blinked, then after a second walked after her.

The two girls came to a stop a ways away from the house. Applejack wheeled around towards Sunset with a thoughtful expression. “Mac says he didn’t hear a peep outta you all night. Take it you slept well,” Applejack said. “or ya snuck off ta mess with us in some way.”

Sunset’s face widened briefly in shock before she reigned in her emotions. “Do you really think I would-”


Sunset’s words sputtered into a stop. She let out a few noises in an attempt for a rebuttal, but eventually gave up. “Right. Well, no, I didn’t mess with anything. I just slept. Thanks again for letting me stay the night here. It means a lot.”

Applejack hummed. “Ah wouldn’t say it was no problem, but you’re welcome. Listen, Sunset, Ah’ll be honest with you: Ah can’t say Ah trust ya one hundred percent just yet. It’s gonna take some time before any of us can completely trust you.”

Sunset nodded gingerly. “I understand.”

Applejack nodded back. “For now, you’ve got my support. Keep on doin’ your best and we’ll be there for ya, if you’re serious about changin’.”

“I am.”

“Good. Please don’t make me regret this.”

“I won’t.”

Applejack and Sunset locked eyes; Sunset gave a small smile before Applejack turned on her heel and whipped out her phone. “Ah’ve got work to do here, so lemme call RD and have her pick you up.”

Sunset dashed forward and placed a hand over Applejack’s phone screen. “No! No, that’s fine. I can walk from here,” she said nervously. “Really, it’s fine.”

Applejack gave her a skeptical look. “You sure? Rainbow Dash told me you live on the other side of town. That’s a ways away.”

Sunset nodded sharply. “It’s fine, I promise. I can do this by myself.”

The farmer raised an eyebrow. “This ain’t what Ah meant by ‘doing your best’, y’know,” Applejack said. “Ah get it, ya don’t wanna feel like you’re relyin’ on our help too much. But walking from one end of town to the other just to prove a point is just plain dumb.”

“I know,” Sunset sighed, “I know. But what’s the point of any of this if I’m just relying on others the entire time? Shouldn’t I be able to do something by myself?”

Applejack let out a long breath. “Sunset, listen to me. You’re new to this friendship business, so Ah don’t blame ya for not knowin’. But part of being friends is helping each other, even if you don’t feel like ya need help. Ah’ve learned that lesson in the past. It’s great that you want to prove yourself, but if ya do it in stupid ways, you’re just goin’ to get yourself hurt. Me ‘n’ the other girls made a promise to help you, so let us help you. You’ll get your chance to prove yourself when it really matters.”

Sunset looked down. “When it really matters…?”

Applejack smirked and nodded. “Exactly. If you’re serious about this second chance, then prove it at school. Prove it to everyone, not just us.” Sunset watched Applejack begin to walk away. “C’mon,” the farmer said as she waved a hand. “Ah’ll call RD and have her pick you up.” Sunset watched her go, her lips pulled tight in thought. Sunset trailed behind, gaze pointed at the ground as she pondered the farmer’s words.

Time Turner’s conversation with Celestia and Luna that morning had been playing on repeat in his mind ever since. He could not stop his thoughts from turning to their words, and the way they looked at him, like he was a mistake waiting to be corrected. Like a problem missing its solution. Like they pitied him, and that was the last thing he wanted.

I don’t deserve pity, he told himself. I don’t deserve a second chance.

After Sugarcube Corner, Turner had left to compose himself, but he did not return home. That house had once been full of life and happiness, but now it only housed himself and his loneliness. He couldn’t bear to be there right now. So as he drove away, desperate for somewhere to go, it occurred to him to look for a place that suited his current mood.

Only one such place fit his needs. This place sat, empty and abandoned, for many years. As the city of Canterlot expanded in the wake of many people settling in, some areas of the city were bound to be forgotten in the hustle. The earlier parts of the city housed many abandoned buildings, completely empty and alone. They would be perfect. So Turner found himself there, in front of what had once been a factory of some sort, his face dark and with his lips pulled into a frown.

I must tell Berry before anything else, he thought. She needs to know first.

Turner bit the inside of his cheek in thought. The first thing he had asked himself had been “Do you want to tell your daughters the truth?” and the answer had been an immediate, obvious yes But no matter how much he wanted to rush to them and spill his guts, he knew he had to wait.

Berry is their parent. I am not. I’m just their teacher. Everything else is up to Berry Punch.

Oh, how he wished Ditzy were still here. She was always brighter than him. Though some in their school years had called her dumb, Turner knew better. Ditzy Doo had been the smartest person he’d ever met. Even though her grades in school were never something amazing, she excelled everywhere else. He figured she’d know exactly what to do if she were here now.

But she’s not, Turner thought sadly. So it’s up to you.

He decided what he was going to do. He’d call Berry, explain himself, and then… and then he’d accept her decision. Either she’d let him tell Derpy and Dinky, or she wouldn’t, and he’d live with it either way.

Turner sucked in a deep breath and turned to walk away, only to stop and turn his head. Was that a car? “I wonder who else decided to rummage their way around here…” he murmured to himself. Stuffing his hands in the pockets of his coat, Turner took off in the direction of the noise.

He didn’t have to walk far. Just around the corner of the factory he saw a car parked just a ways away. Turner stopped, and after a beat, blinked. He recognized that car. It was one he saw parked at CHS every day. What’s a student doing so far out here? Turner wondered. … It’s really none of my business though.

The teacher shook his head. Just as he was about to go back where he came, the doors to the car opened and two girls stepped out. His eyes narrowed at the flash of yellow-and-red hair, and then widened again at the sight of rainbow hair. What were they doing out here together?

Turner stood and pondered for a second, before shrugging and taking a step forward. “Sunset Shimmer?” he called. “Rainbow Dash?”