Sunset Shimmer suffered another anxiety attack after she told the last couple events that happened to her. It started with her pulse going haywire and then it became harder to breath. Eventually Sunset felt a feeling of adrenaline starting from her stomach and quickly coursing throughout her entire body. It made her jumpy and she finally resorted to putting her head down on the table and covering her arms over it. Sunset’s body then proceeded to shake violently as she whispered incoherent statements under her breath. These statements ranged from saying “I’m sorry” to “it’ll never be the same”.
Twilight had been quick to react to the situation. She knew there was no way to stop her; the anxiety would just have to run its course. In the meantime, she rubbed Sunset’s back in an attempt to calm her down. The only hope was for Sunset to recover and not be too scared to talk anymore.
Twilight looked up at the clock that hung on one of the walls of Sugarcube Corner. It was starting to get late and Twilight knew that the bakery would close soon. But Sunset still had a lot more to get off her chest and Twilight didn’t want to let this conversation get book shelved. She quickly saw that her friend Pinkie Pie was still working. She was probably the one closing shop tonight.
“Hey Pinkie,” Twilight called over to Pinkie.
“Yeah, Twilight?” Pinkie replied gleefully. Despite it being late at night she was still full of energy.
“We’re gonna need to stay a bit late,” Twilight pointed to the quivering Sunset. “Can you ask the Cakes if that’s okay?”
“Don’t worry about it Twilight,” Pinkie replied. “The Cakes won’t be back until tomorrow. They asked me to close for the night, so I’m in charge. You two can stay as long as you need.”
“Thanks Pinkie, I appreciate it,” Twilight nodded. Pinkie nodded approvingly and then disappeared behind a door, deeper into the bakery. Twilight silently appreciated that despite Pinkie’s out going nature, she still understood delicate situations. Actually, there was that one time with Fluttershy, but Twilight buried that memory for the moment.
It took a while but eventually Sunset did come to and she lifted her head up. Twilight was relieved that she was back to normal but was now cautious of how to proceed. Sunset didn’t show signs that she had shed any tears but she looked tired. It was as if the ordeal sucked the energy out of her.
“Twilight,” Sunset said breathlessly.
“Yes, Sunset?” Twilight asked, concerned.
“I think I want to continue on with my story,” Sunset swallowed painfully, casting a shameful glance down on the table.
“If it’s what you want,” Twilight said, softly. “I just want to know what triggered that reaction first, so we can maybe avoid it in the future.”
“I don’t know,” Sunset mumbled. “I don’t know at all. Everything I’ve done just seems to come crashing down and it hurts. It hurts to remember that there was a time where I was just so awful to people.”
“All that’s behind you,” Twilight spoke in a calm, almost motherly voice. “Sunset, you need to forgive yourself so you can let go of your past.”
“But will others forget what I’ve done?” Sunset wailed, this time dangerously close to tears. “You don’t know the extent!” She was back to the point of having another anxiety attack.
“Sunset, take a breath,” Twilight commanded, reaching across the table to take hold of Sunset’s shoulders. “You need to keep a level head. If you’re freaking out now, how do you think it’ll be when we’re up against the Dazzlings? Are you going to break then too?”
Sunset sniffled, dazed a bit. “N-no.” Her voice cracked.
“I said, are you gonna break?” Twilight repeated, more sternly.
“No!” Sunset exclaimed, with more conviction.
“Good,” Twilight released Sunset from her hold.
The two girls exchanged glances of peculiarity before giggling to themselves from the oddity. It felt good for them to be able to release some tension after the previous tense moment.
“I never would have guessed that you could be so motivating,” Sunset said to Twilight, finally done laughing.
“It’s what happens when you have an older brother eager to go into the service,” Twilight explained. “He’d always used to march around the house singing cadences to himself.”
“Like the ROTC Nazis,” Sunset joked.
“Yeah, exactly like them,” Twilight giggled.
“Now those guys,” Sunset sighed, “those guys were one of the groups I never touched. They just stayed in their own world and were out of my way.” Sunset sighed. “I wish there were more like them.”
Twilight saw that Sunset had calmed down. “Do you want to continue with your story?” Twilight asked, hoping to get to the bottom of Sunset’s mysterious uprising.
Sunset stretched her arms out. “Yeah, I’ve wanted to get this off my chest for a while now. And there’s this euphoric aspect that I think I’m enjoying.” She paused. “Where was I again?”
“You had just learned about the social groups in Canterlot High from observing them in the cafeteria. Then you had an encounter with someone named Warden,” Twilight said, quickly recalling the events.
Sunset reared her head back. “Warden, of course!” she exclaimed. “Right, he’s a very important part of all this. Well him, and this other guy, whose name escapes me.” Sunset shook her head. “Anyways, this part was close to the time where the Freshman Fair was taking place. Do you know about that?”
“I once saw a picture in a yearbook of our friends at it,” Twilight recalled the yearbook. At the time her friends looked so much younger. It made her think what Sunset looked like back then.
“Yeah that place,” Sunset moped, remembering regretful earlier experiences. “I never went. I had other things that I needed to attend.”
“Such as?” Twilight questioned.
“Well, I was finally starting to become acclimated to the workings of High School,” Sunset was smiling for this part.
“So, how was the first day here?” Badger asked Sunset. He pushed open the front door and held it open for her. She walked outside and felt the cool air hit her. It felt soothing to her skin and she found she had missed the feeling of fresh air after being cooped up in school all day.
“School sucks,” Sunset stated blatantly, walking down the front steps of the school. “Everything’s so regulated and bland. There’s no freedom.”
Badger snickered. “Well, this place isn’t necessarily the land of the free or the home of the brave.” He walked alongside her.
Badger had the time to rendezvous with Sunset at the last bell. He found her by what he assumed to be her locker, putting books away. This time she had remembered his name which was an improvement from their previous encounter in algebra.
Since school was now over, the student body was in the process of vacating the premise as quickly as possible. Everyone was eager to go home to get on with their lives which meant that there was a big hurry to leave. Additionally, it was Friday so everyone was looking forward to the weekend and the freedom that came with it. No more waking up early in the morning.
“You take the bus?” Badger asked Sunset who was walking next to him.
“Um, no,” she replied, looking straight ahead. “I walked here.”
“Cool, me too,” Badger lied. He took the bus every day but Sunset didn’t need to know that.
After a bit of walking they began passing by the statue that stood in the common area. This statue was easily the biggest landmark in front of the school. It loomed over the common area and seemed to watch over the student body like some sort of guardian. Sunset stopped in her tracks. Her eyes were glued in the direction of the statue and she approached it slowly. Stopping right in front of it, she looked puny next to its large size, like an child next to an adult. For a while she stared at the large blank space on the side of the base, and then she placed her hand on it. The feeling she felt from it was cool and lifeless. It contrasted with her warm body.
Badger walked from behind her and too placed his hand on the statue. “Yep,” he said, “that’s concrete alright.” He knocked on it with his knuckle before pulling away.
Sunset looked at him; a dazed looked in her eyes. “Do you know what this statue is?” she asked, breathlessly.
“A horse?” Badger guessed, looking up at horse on top of its base. “It’s supposed to be our mascot. I personally would’ve chosen a dragon or a falcon, but those two were already taken.”
“No, it’s not a horse,” Sunset said and went back to looking. Badger looked back up and still saw a horse statue so he wondered what Sunset was talking about.
Sunset still stared longingly at the statue’s base for a while. Badger noticed that there was a specific sort of sadness in her eyes but couldn’t place where it came from. He remained silent but wondered what got her so depressed about a stone horse.
Eventually she took her hand off the concrete and began walking away. Badger followed closely behind her, trying to figure her out. He had reached two conclusions by the time they both reached the edge of the street. Either she’s a fan of statues, or she’s a horse lover. Badger appreciated both characteristics.
“So, which way is your house?” Badger asked but quickly realized he sounded like weirdo for asking. He didn’t want to sound like a stalker.
“That way,” Sunset pointed nonchalantly. Badger was relieved that she didn’t take his question the wrong way.
“Hey, our houses are in the same direction,” Badger observed. “I guess that means we’re walking together.”
“I guess,” Sunset groaned and the two began the trek.
The walk through town was mostly just silence. Sunset didn’t have anything to say and Badger didn’t know what to say. He mostly just awkwardly stepped and kept his hands in his pockets. Sunset on the other hand looked at the ground mostly and pouted. The walking was awkward for both of them but it was what they had to do. Well, Badger could just take the bus but this made him happier.
Eventually, they found themselves at a four way intersection. Badger leaned over and punched the button on the street light to start the walk signal.
“So, my house is that way,” Badger pointed to his right.
“Mine’s is that way,” Sunset threw her arm out straight in front of her. Badger looked in that direction and shuddered.
“That leads towards a bad part of town,” Badger grimaced. “Everfree High school is down that way.”
“Yep,” Sunset agreed. The walk signal turned on and she stepped onto the cross walk. She began leaving without a goodbye.
“Yeah so, I’ll see you at school next week,” Badger yelled after her. “Or maybe I’ll see you around town?”
Sunset didn’t respond. She only lifted her hand up to signify a goodbye wave. That was all she left with.
“It finally hit me that there really was no turning back at that point,” Sunset explained. “The day I learned the portal finally closed was when I realized I was truly on my own, and I couldn’t take it back.”
“That must’ve been horrifying,” Twilight said, sadly. “I couldn’t imagine being in this strange new world without friends or family to guide me. Where did you stay?”
“Homeless,” Sunset replied, blankly. “I slept in between trashcans and covered myself with newspapers.”
Twilight put a hand over her mouth, shocked at what she just heard. At that moment, Twilight realized how lucky she was. When she arrived in this world for the first time she felt inside Canterlot High’s library. Sunset on the other hand had to be exposed in a dark, dingy urban environment.
“That’s terrible! Don’t tell me you still do that now,” Twilight cried.
“No I’ve got a home now,” Sunset remarked, worry free. She had gotten over her traumatic first residence in the new world ages ago. “It’s just during those first couple of weeks I was on my own, living off scraps. I licked a finished applesauce cup out of the trash once for food.”
“That’s so,” Twilight felt sick.
“Gross? I know,” Sunset cut Twilight off. “Trust me, after that I vowed to never live like that again.” Sunset exhaled. “And I didn’t.”
“How?” Twilight asked.
Sunset shook her head. “That’s a story for another time. I’ll tell you later but back to the bullies.”
“Right,” Twilight nodded, still interested in this story.
“You know, way back when, it was the bullies that ruled Canterlot High. At least before I showed up,” Sunset recalled. “They had a very different way of running it than I did. It was so lenient yet so strict, both at the same time. Rarely did they truly show off their power over everyone but the effects they had on the school were all there.”
“Was it bad?” Twilight begged the question.
Sunset thought on it. “It’s not that simple,” she finally answered. “It’s was more of a factor of life. Their way had been going on for so long that it was just normal at that point. It doesn’t justify them, remember they extorted and harassed students, but it explains why they acted the way they did.”
“How so?” Twilight continued further.
Sunset was about to speak but stopped herself. “Let me just tell you how I learned.”
For Badger, the weekend ended way too quickly. After arriving to his house Friday afternoon, he slept the whole day until it was the next morning. When he had awoken late into the morning, he found his parents had already left for work, leaving him home alone. At that point his mind had thought back to Sunset Shimmer and he wondered what the girl was up to.
So, being always curious, Badger went back to the intersection the two had departed at and looked for the girl, but didn’t find her. Disappointed, he went back home and stayed there the rest of the weekend which was a normal for him. Sunday rolled by and before he knew it Badger was back in school again, roaming the halls before the bell.
Inside his pocket was the daily catch of lunch money he stole from a nerd earlier. Now that business was done he was in search of his entertainment. He kept his eyes peeled for orange and red colored hair. Those two colors were some that would really stand out amongst the student body. For the most part the students all blended with each other and anyone that didn’t always stood out. Whether that is a good thing or bad depends on perspective.
Badger was on the verge of giving up his search when he finally spotted her. She was at her locker which Badger quickly made a mental note of its location. Cautiously, Badger walked towards her until Sunset finally noticed him.
“What’s up, Badger,” Sunset greeted him, closing her locker.
“Sup, Sunny,” Badger choked, realizing his mistake. “I mean Sunset, sorry.”
“Hmph,” Sunset yawned then started walking down the hallway, and Badger followed.
“I- I’ve been working on my growl,” Badger said, nervously. “I spent the weekend practicing, listen. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr. Grrrrrrrrarrrrrr! Grrrrra!”
“Badger,” Sunset stopped walking and glared at her follower, “shut up.”
Badger blushed and smiled cautiously. “Right, it needs a lot more work. I’ll stop now.” Sunset rolled her eyes and leaned back against the wall. “So how was your weekend? You know, living in the slums and everything.”
Sunset visibly shuttered. “It was fine,” she answered but Badger noticed her shivering.
“Really?” he said, bewildered. “Because I hear that place is the worst.”
“I think you’re the worst, Badger,” Sunset grimaced.
“Oh yeah?” Badger smirked playfully. “Well I think,” Badger stopped. His eyes darted around the hallway.
Where they stood now was another long hallway with lockers on each side. The lockers were all a bland beige color, very different from the norm. It took a while for Badger to realize it but when he did a cold shiver ran up his spine. The hallway they stood in was the most infamous hallway in Canterlot High. It had seen a lot throughout the years and not all of them were pleasant.
The hallway’s reputation was what made Badger’s skin crawl. A trickle of sweat ran down the side of his face, there was a presence around him he didn’t like. The only thing that it could be described as is terror. This hallway was the area of school where the most bullying happens, and it brought ruin to anyone found lurking around. As freshmen, Sunset and Badger were perfect victims. Badger knew his bully status wouldn’t help him here. The upper class men take no prisoners.
“Sunset,” Badger grabbed Sunset by the shoulder, “we need to go, now.”
“Don’t touch me!” Sunset shrieked, throwing Badger’s hand off here.
“Shhhhh! Keep your voice down,” Badger spoke through gritted teeth. “We can get into serious trouble right now. So let’s’ just leave while we still have the chance.”
Badger was on the verge of panic but he was just about to contain himself. What really worried him was Sunset. He felt the need to protect her and guide her. She had no idea of how the school works, Badger could sense it. And if he didn’t protect her, no one would.
Besides, she’s hot.
“Hey, Badger,” Sunset peered at her companion. “You’re giving me googly eyes. Stop it.”
Badger shook his head, unaware he had gotten lost in thought. “Sorry,” he apologized. “I just can’t stress how important it is to leave this place. Bad things could happen to people that wander here.”
“Mhm,” Sunset murmured, very uninteresting in what Badger was saying. “Actually, I have something to tell you.” She got up close and personal to Badger. “You know what you can do for me?”
Badger blushed. Sunset was pushing him up against the lockers despite him being much bigger than her. It was obvious he was letting her. Her small hands pressed up against his chest and her face close to his. Badger could feel her hot breath. He welcomed it.
“Y-you’re kind of in my p-personal bubble,” Badger stammered, trying not to look directly at Sunset.
“Are you complaining?” Sunset frowned.
“No, no maam,” Badger replied, obediently. “I’m just,”
“Just what?” Sunset pressed herself even more against Badger. “You’re what?”
Her aqua colored eyes stared right into Badger’s soul. They had an effect on him. They reduced him into a vulnerable state, effectively making him putty in her hands. Sunset smiled triumphantly at how Badger seemed to shrink under her stare. It fueled an instinct within her to be the best there was and have everyone know it.
“N-n-nothing,” Badger finally squeaked out, letting himself lose his will to Sunset.
Sunset smirked. “You’re right. You are nothing.” She gave Badger a little smack on his cheek and then pulled away. She left Badger standing there still in shock while she looked down the hallway. “There,” she pointed, “see that kid?”
Badger regained his composure at the sound of Sunset talking to him. “Who, that guy?” Badger pointed to a dorky looking kid down the hall.
“Yeah,” Sunset looked at Badger. “Go take his lunch money for me.”
Badger nearly had a heart attack. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, two things. First, that’s not the smartest thing to do right now. Second, why do you need money all of a sudden?”
“To pay for lunch, duh,” Sunset responded. “You need money to buy lunch, isn’t that obvious enough? In fact, you told me that.”
“Yeah, but,” Badger held up his hands, “we already found a better solution. We can just take lunch from kids after they buy it. Technically there’s no need to extort anymore.”
“I can think of several reasons to keep extorting,” Sunset paced back and forth. “But I think the most important reason is image. Do you really want to stop extorting kids? What if the other kids start talking? What will everyone think when you just pass them in the hall? They have expectations now. You’ll become a laughing stalk. Everyone thinks you’re a big tough bully but they’ll see the truth if you stop. Do you really want to risk that?”
“Wow,” Badger put a hand on his head and just let his mouth slack open in awe. “You bring up some very good points. I guess I never thought of maintaining image. I’ve always thought of it as survival.”
“Hmph,” Sunset smirked. “Don’t worry, not everyone is as smart as me.”
“Yeah, you’re wicked smart,” Badger nodded.
“Thanks,” Sunset grinned, egotistically. “Now, go get my money.”
Badger was now convinced that Sunset had to be the smartest girl in school. She may not know much about the workings of the social structure but she wasn’t letting that stop her. Badger made a mental note to listen to her more and see if she had anymore wisdom to impart.
A thought came to Badger as he was walking down the hall. With a flick of the heel, he turned quickly to Sunset. “Before I go,” he reached into his pocket, “I got some lunch money from another kid this morning. You can have it. This shouldn’t take too long but just in case the bell rings you can have the money now.” Badger dropped the cash he had gotten into Sunset’s hand. She greedily gripped it, holding the bills up to her face. There was no thank you but that was okay with Badger whom was getting used to it.
With an enthusiastic step, Badger marched towards the kid Sunset had pointed out. As he got closer, Badger realized who the kid was. It was Paper Thin, the kid Badger let go on Friday. Badger cringed; this would be awkward for him. Paper Thin probably thinks he’s made a friend in the bully. Badger cursed himself for letting his moral code interfere last time. He wouldn’t make the mistake again.
With a deep breath Badger picked up the pace, as Paper Thin was just closing his locker door, Badger came by and pressed him against it.
“Wah!” Paper Thin wailed, clenching his eyes shut. He briefly opened one eye, braving his attacker, and was surprised. “Badger?” he squeaked.
“What’s up?” Badger grinned weakly.
“I don’t understand,” Paper Thin said. “Isn’t Boxer supposed to-,”
“Shut up!” Badger snarled, getting more anxious now. “Just give me your lunch money, you know the drill.”
Paper Thin, hands trembling, reached down into his pocket and weakly took out his wallet. Badger grabbed it and tossed Paper Thin to the side. The skinny kid just fell down lamely and sat on the floor.
“I-I only have enough for lunch today, like last time,” Paper Thin commented. Badger raised an eyebrow and made an irritated face.
“Don’t expect a free ride every time I come around,” he growled. “You’re lucky I don’t stuff you in a locker right now.”
Badger extracted what he needed from the wallet’s folds and then carelessly threw it to the side. Paper Thin lunged for it and quickly recovered it for himself. On his knees, he stuffed it into his pocket again. Badger looked pitifully at the kid. Putting one foot behind the other, Badger threw his leg back, and then brought it forward. He kicked Paper Thin right in his ass.
“Aaah!” Paper Thin yelped, jerking forward from the blow.
“That hurt, you skinny runt?” Badger taunted. He kicked the scrawny student again.
“Ow! Yes!” Paper Thin whined, scrambling on his knees to get away. Before he could get away, Badger swooped in and picked him up. Badger grasped his victim’s skinny arms, holding him so their faces were inches apart.
“If you tell anyone what I did here, I will make sure that you have the taste of urinal water in your mouth for your entire high school career,” Badger threatened. He shook Paper Thin and then finally pushed him away. The nerd turned and started briskly walking away. Badger grumbled to himself and threw his foot into Paper Thin’s backside. “Hurry up!” Paper Thin listened and walked faster, but it wasn’t enough. “I said move!” Badger kicked him again.
“Ah!” Paper Thin groaned and walked even faster.
“Run! Run!” Badger shrieked and this time pushed the boy. Out of pure fear, Paper Thin rocketed himself into motion and rounded the corner in a flash. Badger breathed a sigh of relief that it was all over. He felt a bit bad but it was over so there was no reason to delve any further.
Just as it looked like the coast was clear, there was the sudden sound of footsteps. Badger craned his neck to where Sunset was standing. She was standing still so the footsteps weren’t from her. The footsteps only got louder and that was when Badger realized who it was. The footsteps sounded angrier the closer they came, which seemed to be from a stairwell down the hall.
Panic set into Badger’s mind as he stumbled over himself to run back to Sunset. He ran like a wild animal on a rampage back to Sunset’s position. Sunset looked at Badger as if he were crazy.
“Why are you running for?” she asked. Badger answered by grabbing a hold of her wrist and pulling her into motion.
“No time, we need to leave now,” Badger huffed, dragging Sunset behind him.
“I said don’t touch me!” Sunset wailed, but couldn’t break herself free so she was forced to follow closely behind. The two ran around the school until the bell rang and they finally parted ways.